Information Exchange: Publications

Bringing the End User into the System: Directions in the U.S. Intelligent Transportation Systems Program

Author: Thomas A. Horan, Ph.D.

Robert Crandall, the former Chairman and CEO of American Airlines, once remarked that his Sabre information system was one of the most important advances in travel over the last thirty years. While no doubt laced with the same self-confidence that propelled him to transform an industry, the comment is not without merit: the Sabre system served as the information system that facilitated discounted flights, costumer loyalty (e.g. frequent flyer) programs, and new hub-and-spoke service designs that translated the concept of yield management into reduced fairs and increased service.


Besides an anecdote on Mr. Crandall’s business acumen, the explosion of the information dimension of the airline travel business has an important message for surface transportation professionals—the consuming public is ready, willing, and able to take charge of its transportation choices. But, just as the Sabre information system needed to be in place before the benefits of yield management could be realized, the challenge for

surface transportation professionals is to create timely, useful, reliable, and interpretable information systems that the consumer can in use to guide their choice of mode, time and route of travel.

Over the last decade, the U.S. Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) program has positioned itself as the provider of information systems for surface transportation system users. Consequently, transportation planners, policy makers, engineers and service

providers associated with ITS need to consider how these systems can best accommodate the needs of various users of the nations highway, transit, pedestrian, and bicycle systems. Using a loose analogy with the air travel system as a point of comparison, this

article draws upon recent end user related ITS research findings to suggest a next generation of information system design and use."

Date Created: October 2001; Date Posted: March 2002






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