National ITS Architecture Policy


The national ITS architecture policy is not technology specific but a directive to establish a common framework of ITS interoperability.  The end goal is to achieve communication across the national among transit and transportation agencies for User-based services through the definition of functions and information exchanges:

·         Achieve Integration
·         Engage a wide range of stakeholders
·         Support tailoring ITS to local requirements
·         Enable electronic information sharing
·         Facilitate future ITS expansion
·        Provide for future interoperability of key ITS services at a national level.


It’s important to note that the national ITS architecture is a policy, not a rule.  At the federal government level, compliance with policies are not required but strongly encouraged.  As stated in the background section, the key motivation to complying with this policy is eligibility for Highway Trust Fund (HTF) monies.  Applicable situations are:

·         Projects using HTF Funds
         Mass transit accounts

         Most funds distributed by FTA & FHWA (Federal Highway Administration)

         Monies transferred to FTA for administration or managed by FHWA.


This policy is the result of TEA-21 (Transportation Efficiency Act) legislation and was effective April 8, 2001.  As mentioned previously, this legislation implements Section 5206(e) of TEA-21 which requires that all ITS projects funded through the Highway Trust Fund be in conformance with the national ITS Architecture and applicable standards.  Regional ITS architecture must be implemented by April 8, 2005 and example is Southern California’s Metropoliation Transit Authority’s (MTA’s) RIITS initiative. 

Defining ITS and ITS Projects

The definition in TEA-21 states an ITS to be:
“Electronics, communications or information processing used singly or in combination to improve the efficiency or safety of a surface transportation system.”


Following from this, the definition of an ITS project is:
“A project that includes ITS components that implements any of the ITS User Services.”

ITS User Services

User Services form the underlining basis of the National ITS Architecture development effort and documents what ITS should do from a user’s perspective.  There are three major categories of User Services relating to transit: Travel and Traffic Management, Public Transportation Management, and Other Bundles. 

Travel and Traffic Management

·         Trip Travel Information
         Route Guidance

         Ride Matching

         Traffic Control

         Highway-Rail Intersection

Public Transportation Management

·         Enroute Transit
         Personalized Public Transit

         Public Transit Safety

Other Bundles that are ITS

·         Fare Systems
         Emergency Management

         Information Management of Transit Information


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