Efficiency drive

Thinking Highways
By Thinking Highways July 4, 2014 12:59

Efficiency drive

Risto Kulmala on improving the duration and quality of journeys via evaluation and piloting.

The Finnish Transport Agency’s (FTA) mission is to operate the road, rail and maritime transport networks of Finland. We aim to carry out the mission as efficiently as possible. Public sector budgetary restrictions result in a need for prioritization, seeking an optimum between providing the best possible service to the customers (travelers, companies, authorities, and others) and keeping within the budgets also in the long term.

The approach chosen by the FTA has been to define levels of service levels. These levels have been defined to journeys and transports, as these are the links to our actual customers as transport network operators. The identified key service level factors are:

  • Safety
  • Travel time
  • Predictability
  • Controllability
  • Availability
  • Comfort
  • Accessibility

The idea is that policy and decision makers determine the minimum and objective service levels, which the FTA and other involved stakeholders fulfill using their tools and services. FTA maintains a development-oriented approach, for which it has a very good track record. Hence, we are working towards an efficient balance of development-oriented and service level approaches.

For ITS, all this means good opportunities. ITS solutions can remove transport problems efficiently. In addition to providing tools for increasing safety and reducing travel time, they are especially crucial for some service level factors such as predictability and controllability. To have the potential ITS solutions fully utilized, we need to know the impacts and the benefit/cost of the different ITS solutions under varying conditions.


In 2013, a comprehensive inventory of the impacts and benefit/cost of all ITS solutions in road, rail and maritime transport was carried out. Now we have started to fill in the identified knowledge gaps in the inventory by commissioning evaluation studies. We have started with the ITS solutions that will most likely be deployed in a large scale in the near future.

FTA is also initiating and supporting a number of pilots. In addition to providing useful information on the performance, impacts and socioeconomic feasibility of the ITS solutions, pilots are an important link in the innovation cycle, where ideas are developed into finished services or products. Some of the ongoing pilots are described below.

E18 Oslo-St Petersburg corridor

The E18 Oslo-St Petersburg corridor runs through southern Finland from Turku to the Russian border. It has acted as a weather-controlled road piloting ground since the 1990s. Fitsrus, which is a pilot project that involves a multitude of Finnish and Russian stakeholders, is studying the use of automated weather services, automated incident detection and alert system, real-time traffic and travel time information service, public transport information service, and an HTML5-based multi-service platform for travel chain optimization.

 Traffic Lab

Traffic Lab is a pilot that is testing the emergence of a digital transport service market for consumers by testing new cooperation and business models in public-private partnerships. The aim is to achieve a voluntary instalment of on-board units to facilitate ITS multiservice use in up to 60,000 vehicles. The FTA and other public sector stakeholders have agreed to purchase such Traffic Lab information that is required by authority services. For FTA, these services include for instance safety-related traffic information as specified by the EC Delegated Act for ITS Directive’s priority action c), incident management, and winter maintenance.

Road surface condition floating vehicle data

The FTA has also initiated the piloting of road surface condition floating vehicle data, where heavy vehicle fleets equipped with plug&play devices assess road surface friction based on vehicle sensor data. Currently two different systems are being tested and piloted in Finland with very promising results.

The content and first results of the pilots will be presented in Helsinki during the ITS Europe Congress in June 2014.


Risto Kulmala is Principal Advisor on ITS at the Finnish Transport Agency (FTA)
Email: Risto.Kulmala@liikennevirasto.fi
Web: www.liikennevirasto.fi


Thinking Highways
By Thinking Highways July 4, 2014 12:59