Click for next page ( 198


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 197
PANEL REPORTS l97

OCR for page 197

OCR for page 197
THE SETTING FOR INNOVATION BY FOSTER L. WELDON Our panel members agreed on a couple of things rather quickly. First, that the setting for innovation was a "lousy" one, and, second, that it was going to be tough to try to improve it. We had little trouble identifying barriers throughout the session, but we had real difficul- ties arriving at recommendations for improvements. This is simply because of the complexity of the thing; a whole potpourri of public and private organizations is interacting within a framework that is really a very dynamic marketplace, but at the same time it is constrained by static laws and static regulations. At a highly aggregated level of all of these components we finally were able to agree on several suggestions for improvement. But attempts to dig into the detailed interactions were not very productive. In what follows I will try first to outline the consensus reached concerning the barriers to innovation, and then I will get to the recommendations for lowering the barriers. First, the barriers that were identified in the executive branch of the government are as follows: l. Fragmentation of authority and responsibility for transportation programs, both across and among the major modes of transportation. 2. Inconsistent and erratic leadership in pursuit of transporta- tion goals and objectives. 3. Lack of systematic approaches to encourage transportation innova- tion. 4. Lack of long-term plans and policy commitments to pursue specific transportation goals and objectives. 5. Faulty coordination among agencies in the management of inter- related transportation activities. In the state and local governments, the major barrier to innovation is simply the great number and diversity of these entities. The primary customer of transportation at the local level is a hodgepodge of city, county, and regional governments, districts, and authorities with ambi- valent perceptions of the needs and mechanisms for, and the desirability and efficacy of, transportation improvement. We then looked at the congressional level of government and identi- fied barriers to innovation that are somewhat similar to those in the executive agencies: inconsistent leadership and lack of long-term plans and policy commitments in pursuit of transportation goals. l99

OCR for page 197
In addition, two other specific barriers at the congressional level were identified: (l) Too many oversight committees with conflicting objectives and overlapping authority. (2) Uncoordinated transportation-related activities undertaken in response to a variety of constituencies. In the industrial/commercial setting,barriers to innovation are as follows: (l) Size, maturity, and massive infrastructure of the component companies, characteristics that are not generally conducive to agile innovation. (2) The low rate-of-return characteristics of operating companies in the transportation business. (3) The inherent difficulties in predicting market response and economic impact of significant changes in transportation system opera- tion. (4) The high-cost/high-risk nature of necessary full-scale, real- world proof testing. (5) The natural resistance to change that characterizes many individuals and organizations until threatened. In the research setting, academic institutions were singled out for special consideration. This is because of their value as a source of new, innovative talent for the transportation industry. Lack of a steady supply of technically superior talent is certainly a barrier to innovation, and yet it seems that this supply is threatened by scarcity and lack of continuity of funds needed to support academic research activities. Request for proposal grantsmanship for unrelated agency or mission- oriented projects does not solve this problem and may even compound it by absorbing talent and resources that could better be used in more basic research and teaching. Other barriers were identified that are related to legal, societal, and general technological matters. I will just note these quickly. The patterns of laws having some bearing on transportation matters has been established for several decades, and certainly, at least in the areas of patent policies and antitrust legislation, there should be some critical reviews to ascertain the deleterious effects this fact may be exerting on innovation. The general uncertainties in our society, created by such things as inflation and energy worries, certainly also affect innovation by skewing new developments toward small, short-term, low-risk projects. In the general technological area, it was felt that we are not getting nearly enough spin-off from foreign and nontransport R§D activities. These remarks have summarized the barriers. Now I will outline what we think might be done about them. Part A. To provide potential innovators with a sound knowledge of federal priorities, resources, commitments, and philosophy per- taining to meeting transportation needs, DOT should take the following steps: 200

OCR for page 197
l. Prepare and issue an annual long-range national transportation plan. This plan should spell out policy initiatives, capital assistance priorities, and R§D priorities. Management of the program for meeting these initiatives should be included. 2. Include the interrelationships between DOT and other regulatory agencies in the plan, and, importantly, show a rationale for the evolu- tion of nonoverlapping regulations. 3. Develop program criteria for innovative content, and use them to test the department's initiatives and programs. 4. Define priorities and resource allocations for at least the next l0 years. These definitions should be included in the plan and should relate to DOT's role in sharing information, providing leader- ship to state and local governments, aggregating markets, pursuing high-risk R§D and defining needs and specifications. Part B. Changes in the current process affecting program acceptance and definition and coordination should be made to foster transportation innovation. Therefore DOT should: l. Request the legislative branch to consolidate its authorizing, appropriating, and oversight committees for all modes of transportation, combining the functions in a single committee in each branch of the legislature. 2. Emphasize the sharing of assistance and information with state and local agencies, stressing innovative management approaches rather than technological approaches. 3. Involve operators of transportation systems in the cooperative generation of programs and functional specifications that foster inno- vative products and services. Part C. The panel believes that the government executive and legislative programs, processes, and leadership lack the stability needed to induce innovators to take entrepreneurial risks. To ameliorate this problem, DOT should: l. Define and implement actions to assure continuity of manage- ment and funding for these programs. 2. Relate DOT program structure to mission areas and priorities defined in its annual plan. 3. Create within the office of the secretary an authoritative mechanism responsible for overseeing the roles, functions, and missions of the operating administrations from an innovational point of view. 4. Develop a continuing educational and research program with the academic community. Part D. In view of the fact that transportation contributes a whopping 20 percent of the GNP, the panel believes that Congress should establish a special financial mechanism, analogous to the export/import bank. The bank would be empowered to produce variable-interest loans and/or assistance funds and loan guarantees to communities and to private enterprise to develop and test, over appropriate periods of time, innovative transportation systems and services. Criteria for the selection and evaluation of these projects would be based on national goals with regard to energy, natural resources, environmental quality, society, the economy, and so forth. 20l

OCR for page 197
Such projects would serve to consolidate disparate local interests and objectives and would provide a powerful stimulus to innovative trans- portation and community development. DISCUSSION BISPLINGHOFF: Now, is there anything anyone would like to say? LIST: I am a little concerned about one thread I see running through what you say. It is that the government created the problem, and somehow in all of its wisdom it will solve it, and that if we could just get a little less government, the prospect for solutions appearing would probably be much greater. WELDON: I did not mean to imply that the government necessarily caused the problems. LIST: Well, I do. WELDON: However, since we are directing this to DOT, clearly, we should be trying to help DOT solve the problems wherever they were created. As I said when I started, it is a very difficult thing to try to improve. BISPLINGHOFF: That is a good comment. Let's have some more like that. PIKARSKY: Along the same line, you started by identifying some of the barriers. You indicated that one barrier was the large number of state and local governments that are diverse in form and that is a key barrier. You indicated that DOT should establish priorities in trans- portation funding. My reaction to that point was that we have substan- tial regional differences and that, desirably, we should have a little less government. We should have the performance requirements of our goals and objectives identified at the federal level, but allow regional areas to resolve their local differences. At the end of your remarks you touched on that by talking about a variation of the import/export- type bank facilities, which indicated we should encourage local initia- tives and innovation. I think that there is a contradiction in that espousal in comparison with federal transportation requirements. WELDON: Well, the two definitely tie together. The barrier state- ment was that there is a great diversity of local opinion within a regional area, and that is an inhibitor to innovation because the customer cannot agree on what is needed. Now, at the end, the intended cure for that is this analogy to the export/import bank, a way through funding to try to get these local objectives together. PIKARKSY: Let me suggest that, perhaps, one of the difficulties at the regional and local level is the specific requirement for agency cooperation and coordination that the federal DOT establishment requires. Let me give a specific example. In the c'ase of coordinated comprehen- sive planning in an agency, DOT and other agencies have tried to define a specific regional entity; one entity for a region. In the Chicago metropolitan area, for example, where we have had at least some politi- cal influence to modify that, we have a series of about 8 or l0 agencies, some ad hoc, some legislatively created, that contribute to 202

OCR for page 197
that overall coordination. Through that informal activity there has been, generally, consensus among all the agencies in coming up with the unified plans for the area. But this arrangement has come about through a political interaction that is not politically attainable in many other regional areas of the country. So again, it may be that the federal establishment is trying to identify specific forms of structures of agencies, instead of setting performance requirements for coordination, and that, perhaps, creates the problem. WELDON: I am sure that is correct, yes. BISPLINGHOFF: Are there other questions or comments? SHIPLEY: I would like to comment on the diversity question, too. Generally, I think we should not condemn diversity, because very often it is that sort of thing that leads to innovative approaches, or different approaches that stimulate new things. And so, I think you need to say what you are alarmed about in connection with diversity. And one other point was a recommendation to reduce risk. Well, as we become more and more imbued with a philosophy of a riskless society, it seems to me that that is a dead hand that squelches most willingness to change. I think what you are concerned about are the uncertainties because of short-term programs, put up on the part of Congress,and others, which make it very difficult to foresee more than two or three years. Most innovation in transport will require longer than that. So, I think it is not the risk, per se, which would be involved in any kind of innovative development for external reasons, but it is the uncertainty owing to the shortness of certain kinds of programs. WELDON: I have to agree with you. It is a matter of degree, though, I think. It is a question of reducing risk to the point where the industry will put their own money into innovative, real-world experiments, and, on the other hand, we certainly think that our recommendations about the longer-term stability will help in that direc- tion as well. BISPLINGHOFF: Dr. Chesebrough. CHESEBROUGH: In your statement about the customers, I do not think I heard reference to people. You got down to local governments and local operating units, but they are not the customers. It is people who are the customers. Now, admittedly, the local governmental units and operating entities might be the agents of and the spokesmen for the people, but we have plenty of examples in this country in which, because of our political process, they do not always accurately enough reflect the real desires, willingness, and interest of the people. It seems to me that this point deserves a little more mention. WELDON: I agree with you completely. I did not mention people, but I was not leaving them out intentionally. We just did not know what to say about them. You are right. These local government units do not always represent the people, and sometimes that results in a rude awakening in the marketplace later. DEAVER: I just want to double-check what you said, Foster, although it may be somewhat repetitious of things that have been said already. In perceiving the problem of innovation in transportation, the kinds of solutions you come up with—part of it is simply reorgani- zing what you have, doing a little better planning and coordinating— 203

OCR for page 197
sound suspicious to me, in terms of adding additional resources. You talk about a bank. This would take resources and, in effect, subsidize a particular aspect of the economy. It sounds as if there would be additional bureaucracy involved in some of these planning and coordina- ting functions. I am not sure it would have to be, but it sounds to me as though we are talking about a bigger governmental role, and a sub- sidy to a particular area. I wonder if that is the direction that this group really wants us to take? WELDON: I do not agree with part of your statement. The analogy to the export/import bank; I would certainly not call that a subsidy. The export/import bank has been very successful and at practically zero cost. Another analogy is the so-called "MIKI" arrangement in Japan, where the consortium of banks, operating with industry and government with federal goals in mind, has been enormously successful in pulling Japanese industry up from really nothing, to a world leader. So, these schemes have been tried and proved productive, and I would not call that a subsidy. I cannot argue with the other parts of your comment. We do not think we are recommending a significant addition to bureaucracy, although we cannot really control that. It depends on how it is done. Hopefully, we are adding very little, and perhaps, with better planning, there will be an opportunity for savings along with it. GREEHAN: I want to make a comment about one point where you indi- cated that the size, maturity, and massive infrastructure were barriers to innovation. That is not necessarily true, although it is frequently true. We have some large industries that are innovative, and they have size, maturity, and a large infrastructure to go with them. I think our airlines are doing pretty well. The telephone industry and the communications industry are both large, and have maturity and large infrastructures. WELDON: I agree with you completely. I did not mean to wrap all components of the transportation industry into that statement. Many equipment suppliers are very innovative. They have to be to keep up with the competition. The reference to infrastructure was the old stuff, 250,000 miles of rail track in place, 42,000 miles of interstate highway. That is pretty heavy infrastructure. Now, I want to add one more thing to that. In my view, if we are innovative enough, the right of way represented by that infrastructure is invaluable for innovation. How in the world could you get that much right of way for guidways and things, if they did not already exist? BISPLINGHOFF: Foster, one of the things that we have struggled with in the committee are the questions of what is different about a desirable setting for environment in transportation vis a vis other fields and how does it differ, perhaps, between the modes. We heard Ward Haas tell us that for consumer goods, the main job of govern- ment is to create a good economic environment and control inflation and then get out of the way. The private sector will then do every- thing that is required. Now, that obviously cannot be said about many of the fields of transportation. As you pointed out a moment ago, the highway system depended on a big government intervention in that 204

OCR for page 197
business. What do you have to say about that question? It seems to me that it is a pretty fundamental one that we ultimately need to talk to. WELDON: I have puzzled with that one, and there are all kinds of ways you can slice it. I have not come up with a very satisfying answer. I think one difference is that in our society there is a feel- ing of almost a right, a constitutional right, to mobility. And because the government is involved in transportation operations, there are always pressures to keep costs down to preserve this right of mobility. I do not know if that is an important factor, but it certainly is part of the reason why transportation operating companies operate at very low return on investment and many are subsidized, which again, brings in the government and creates a situation that is quite different from free operation of the marketplace. I am no economist, but those are a couple of things that I would mention. BISPLINGHOFF: Does anybody in the audience have any comments on that point? PINNES: I have just a little variation on what Ray was saying. When you lump all of transportation together, I think it is still worth recognizing that we have the best air system in the world. We have the best highway system in the world, and we probably have the worst rail system in the world; yet they all operate under the same general rules. Now, what makes one good and one bad? WELDON: I cannot answer that question. I agree with you. LIST: I would like to make one comment. For one, we do not have the worst rail system in the world. PINNES: The second best? LIST: No, it is probably the best rail system in the world as far as the freight shipper is concerned. The impression that the rail sys- tem is not good comes mostly from the passenger end of the business. It is fair to say that the passenger transportation in Europe is head and shoulders over anything we offer here on the railroad. But the freight transportation is exactly the other way around. We do not want to for- get that. WELDON: May I put in a comment there? I have to agree that the freight part of the rail operations must be pretty efficient or the trip-end problem in pickup and delivery of goods is pretty lousy because I discovered some remarkable statistics the other day. Forty percent of the huge contribution to GNP that freight shipping makes is from local trucking, that is, the pickup and delivery of goods in metropoli- tan areas. Now, contrasted to that, the total cost of line-haul truck- ing nationally is l0 percent less than the cost of local trucking, and, lo and behold, all railroad freight, despite its enormous tonnages, is only about one-third as costly as local trucking. So, it would appear that rail is operating very efficiently in the freight area. BISPLINGHOFF: Foster, one of your points is that there is a lack of long-term plans in the DOT. I wonder if a long-term plan of a federal agency ever has any meaning. I have seen a lot of long-range planning done mainly for the benefit of public relations in the Congress, but when it comes right.down to it, it had little relationship to what actually happens. Is that very important? 205

OCR for page 197
WELDON1: Maybe you are too close to it, Ray. I think the way I should have stated it is that a perception of stability needs to be sent out there into the world. Innovators, as I mentioned, in these uncertain times are inclined to go for short-term, small, low-risk innovations. If they could just perceive some higher degree of stability in government programs, I think it would help. It does not necessarily have to be so, if the innovators perceive it in that way. CHESEBROUGH: It just occurs to me that perhaps the decline of the passenger rail system in this country is a perfect example of the work- ings of innovation in transportation by private industry. Industry developed different ways of transporting individuals that have more appeal to the individuals, and therefore people are using those innova- tive methods instead of continuing with one that existed originally. I would also echo what the gentleman said about the freight system. I managed a relatively large enterprise in France for a few years. There was a saying over there that if you really wanted to lose something, ship it someplace on the railroad. BISPLINGHOFF: Foster, I wonder if you would be able to tell us what your most important recommendation is? WELDON: I am an innovator, so I like the export/import bank ana- logy and I do not think it would cost much. That would be my favorite, but you ought to call on the other members of my panel. They might not agree. BISPLINGHOFF: Are there other members of the panel here? I see Ed Gray. What is your most important recommendation, Ed? GRAY: Well, as we looked at the situation for the transportation activities of DOT, I was struck by the remarkably small amount of money they spend on research and development in comparison with the part that transportation plays in their total R§D. It is a very minuscule part, and I believe that one of the things that would help stir innovation across the board would be more vigorous and aggressive programs—a better stated program with longer-range objectives of what needs to be accomplished in the whole field of transportation. They should put some money behind an assistance-type program without major strings attached to it and allow for the innovative abilities of the private sector to come up with ideas, and put some seed money behind this in order to get some ideas sponsored and carried to the point where we could see what their contribution to the transportation field might be. BISPLINGHOFF: Good point. 206

OCR for page 197
INTERACTIONS OF GOVERNMENT. INDUSTRY. AND ACADEMIA BY MARTIN GOLAND Our panel was requested to concentrate on the interactions between government agencies, industry, and universities and how these inter- relationships can be optimized in DOT policies and program planning to further innovation in the transportation areas. As a framework for our discussions, we chose to appraise the role of each of the three participants in turn, with the expectation—as indeed did happen—that the desirable functions of each would be clarified as the exchange of ideas progressed. Our panel was an exemplary one, including persons with long experience in transportation research, development, and utilization, and a wide variety of past program experiences were brought up to illustrate how university-government-industry collaboration could be made truly effective, as well as instances where the results were less than desirable. It is, of course, impossible to condense in a few minutes the many points raised during a full day of deliberation. I shall try, however, to summarize the principal conclusions we reached, noting that much material recorded in the full transcript is worthy of detailed study. Considering the role of universities, it was unanimously agreed that university engineers and scientists must play a strong role in DOT's formulation of an innovative transportation research program. In addition to the advancement of knowledge and understanding, the univer- sities are also the source of trained personnel who are essential for the future health and well-being of all transportation activities span- ning the spectrum from theory to practice. It was also agreed by the panel members that DOT has thus far not been particularly successful in building sound relationships with the university community. What is needed above all is the establishment of a long-range pattern of DOT-university collaborations based on two essential features- stable programmatic policies and relatively stable funding levels. It was pointed out that DOD has recognized the importance of basic research as a necessary element in achieving its mission objectives and has taken direct action to insure that relationships with university staffs are maintained at a mutually supportive level. A similar situation pre- vails within the NASA program. DOT, on the other hand, has not given this area sufficient attention and in fact—as was noted by a university member of the panel—transportation research and education, with the 207

OCR for page 197
somehow popped up on our little list of questions to look at: whether centers of excellence are a good idea and how they relate to federal procurement. Perhaps we do not even understand the problem, or perhaps we did not understand what centers of excellence are. But there was a view, or a conception, that a center of excellence meant a new organization, a quasi-federal sort of thing. It might be partly run by industry, and partly run by the government, and it might be a "set-aside" center of excellence doing its thing all by itself. Our panel seemed to have a fairly strong consensus that this was not a very good idea. Of course, there are notable exceptions we could mention. I think our fear here is that we have seen at least some examples of how a federal laboratory, or a quasi-federal laboratory, set up for a particular purpose, has tended to become more of an end in it- self than a means to an end. One of its chief aims in life, one of its chief objectives, becomes that of self-perpetuation, rather than serving a purpose. It is a thing of which we should be fearful. DISCUSSION ROGERS: I have one comment. I would like to encourage, and in- deed urge, the Department of Transportation to pay careful and respon- sive attention to the innovative suggestion of this panel (and I think another panel as well) that the federal grant programs in transporta- tion be looked at as a source of support of transportation RDT§E acti- vities. It should be appreciated that there are important precedents for so doing. The highway trust fund is one example: l l/2 percent of the highway trust fund may be used for research, development, test, and evaluation. And the HUD 70l(b) clause, contained within the Com- prehensive Metropolitan Planning Act, allows up to 5 percent of the funds authorized and appropriated under 70l—it was about $50 million a year, a few years back—to be used for RDT^E. This is a way of, in principle, perhaps doubling the amount of RDT§E funds to be made availa- ble to improve the efficiency and the effectiveness with which those federal grant monies are being spent. And, with these funds, universi- ties, local professional groups, and local commercial and not-for-profit groups could be called upon, and supported, to study transportation problems. It would also free up, thereby, much of the federally contracted RDT§E dollars from support of smaller, more local studies, and allow their focus upon the larger national problems that might warrant especially large-scale central study. The second element of such a strategy would come into play down- stream. Once having conducted sound RDT§E programs, from which, as a result, improved program efficiency and effectiveness can be demonstra- bly achieved, the secretary of transportation, working with the admini- strators, can do a very simple thing. In communicating with those who are asking for large federal transportation equipment, construction, and operating grants, he simply points out that he had perhaps l0 times 228

OCR for page 197
as many requests for such funds as he has appropriations to fulfill them. Now, he would not suggest to those state and local bodies who would use such grant funds to develop, construct, install, and operate their transportation systems how to do so, but he would point out that DOT has developed analyses, components, subsystems, whatever, that improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of those transportation systems if sensibly employed. And, naturally, those who evidence a willingness to achieve such increased efficiencies and effectiveness could expect to have their requests put on the top of the pile, for in this fashion, the taxpayer would be getting more for his money. This could be a very powerful strategy. 229

OCR for page 197

OCR for page 197
TECHNOLOGY AND RSD PQLTfTF.S TO STIMULATE INNOVATION BY HERBERT D. BENINGTON I would like first to comment on the constitution of the panel. Since I am very skeptical about the role that the federal government can play in research and development unless it is, in fact, the user of its development products as is the Department of Defense, I was delighted that there were on the panel a large number of others who were also skeptics. It tended to be a panel of entrepreneurs, of people who want- ed to be cautious about the government role and who recognized how easily bureaucratic mistakes are made, people who are very wary about technocratic solutions in complicated areas, and people who are concern- ed about good management and accountability. So, from my point of view, it was a responsible and cautious group. The panel wanted me to make some observations. We noted that the Department of Transportation research and development budget is only 2.3 percent of its budget, and that compares with something like ll percent for DOD and almost 50 percent for the Department of Energy. We recognize that one should be cautious about such overarching statements. But we noticed that the DOT R§D budget is also declining at a rate of about 8 percent a year. And we noticed, too, that the position of the Assistant Secretary for Systems Development and Technology was abolished. We also sensed in talking to some of the individuals in the Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST) from the department, and from our own experience, that all of this has led to a very poor climate and a poor attitude within the highest levels of OST toward technology and technologists. There appears to be relatively little confidence in and little use of people with scientific and technical backgrounds in some major decisions. Further, procurement practices have evolved—Allen Puckett gave excellent examples—in ways that we think are quite rigid. The process may be good for buying boots, but it is not good for helping the innovative climate. There is often weak support of the R§D pro- grams at OMB and on the Hill. As I said earlier, in my remarks during discussion of a previous paper, we recognize very well that there were some real difficulties when one of our objectives was to use aerospace technology to help solve trans- portation problems, particularly surface transportation, including rail and urban mass transit. There were many technologically naive people in the government, and in industry, who thought that we could use this talent and make great progress in transportation R§D. Many unsuccessful programs resulted. 23l

OCR for page 197
However, it seems to us that if that represented one end of the swing of a pendulum, the pendulum has gone about as far in the other direction as it can go. Given some of the very major national problems that we have now in energy, in the environment, in the urban areas, in balance of payments, and in the health of U.S. industry, a judicious strengthening of the technological arm at OST in DOT is urgently needed. So, we talked about an assistant secretary for R§D. We would emphasize that this should not be an office that does detailed manage- ment of the modal R§D programs. We have seen examples in which this just does not help. It slows things down. We would emphasize that it is very important that the leaders in that office not be thoughtless supporters of technology. There is a history of such support on occa- sion. There is still a lot of skepticism concerning such an organiza- tional arrangement within the government, on the Hill, and within the OST. So considerable prudence and statesmanship are required in making changes. We do believe that this office could play a major role in shaping plans and policies that are conducive to innovation, and that extends beyond Rfp. It gets into such things as procurement practices, or ways of shaping the grants process. Probably the most important aspect of this idea is the need to apply research and analysis to the whole business of regulation, to make that business more coherent, economical- ly justifiable, accountable, and successful in achieving sensible goals. We think that this science and technology office could take the lead in discovering intermodal opportunities and in seeing that these get proper emphasis and it could also identify what we call the no-modal opportunity, for example, pipelines. There is no regular DOT mode representing pipelines. Is it possible that some activity could be spurred there by the federal governemnt? We would establish a full-time scientific advisory group, analogous to the Defense Science Board (DSB), and make sure that that group had people as highly qualified as those in the DSB and the President's Scientific Advisory Committee (PSAC) have been in the past. We would make sure that that group is given access to the problems and given freedom to criticize and to suggest ideas. Finally, we would change the procurement practices. Puckett touch- ed on one of the most important aspects, the case of unsolicited pro- posals. We would lower the threshold of authority in awarding sole source grants or contracts. We would increase the use of the performance requirements specifications in procurements. Rather than determining a solution and attendant design specifications, the government should state the objective and the performance requirements being sought. We would also stimulate joint ventures. We believe that the entire policy and planning function in OST needs very much to be strengthened. Implicity, we were supporting the notion of the national transportation plan. I second Puckett's comment that plans are made to be changed. On the other hand, they also pro- vide a visibility and a comprehensiveness of thought that can be very useful. We thought that there should be something called an annual mobility assessment. This mobility assessment would tell us annually how well 232

OCR for page 197
we think the system is doing: in terms of the users of the various modes, the services, the costs; in terms of the operators, how well they are doing; in terms of the suppliers, how viable the industry is, and what is happening to it. This mobility assessment would obviously have to be put together by many elements outside of DOT, in the federal government, in state and local governments, and in private industry. There was some discus- sion within the panel on how to achieve it. I think a majority felt that it would be done independently, as in a continuing commission, if you will, producing this annual report, independent of the DOT. My own inclination is that it is important that it have an adequate staff and a strong connection to DOT. I would like to see a more regularized role for DOT in mobility assessment. Let me now turn to the issue of the R§D programs of the various modes. This discussion relates to Martin Goland's earlier remarks, and those of others, concerning the differences in the ways in which the modes operate and the resulting differences one sees for handling R§D. We, too, made the distinction that air traffic control and the Coast Guard are cases in which DOT is the user/operator and needs to take the lead in doing the research and development. In the case of the auto and aircraft, we were very skeptical about any active R§D role. In our discussions of rail, urban mass transit, and highway, we thought there was certainly one case where there was a very important opportunity for a strong federal program, not large in terms of many of the programs that the country has undertaken, but nonetheless a large one. This program would have the aim over the next four or five years of really increasing our system understanding of a much improved urban mass transit technology. Let me give the background to our thinking there. In looking at the use of urban mass transportation, it seems to us that modest incremental improvements in performance, service, or cost are not going to increase the ridership significantly. Ridership—use of urban mass transport versus other means—is something like 4 or 5 per percent of the total, and we think it will stay there, from the way the program is going, over the next l0 to 20 years. At the same time we see, within the city, very major problems. This is certainly one of our major national problem areas and involves congestion, environment, economics, crime, and other factors. We also sense a political commit- ment to urban mass transportation and that does not gainsay Charpie's comment that everybody is in favor of it and nobody wants to ride it. The fact is that there are political forces behind it. On the other hand, we do not deny the dismal record of some of DOT's attempts to apply aerospace technology to improving transportation. There is much fundamental agreement on that aspect. However, let us now make a technical, engineering, and economic observation. It seems to us that if we are to increase ridership from 4 percent to 20 or 30 percent in our large and congested cities, we must do it by making the transportation much more accessible. One must be able to get to his destination much more quickly, and stations are going to have to be closer to where you are and where you are going. We cannot 233

OCR for page 197
have the long access times and transit times and waiting times that we have today. In looking at the bus option it seems to us that buses, anyway you go, are going to be manpower intensive, both in terms of operation and probably in terms of maintenance. Therefore a lot of good work could be done in that area. We ask the question, "Is it possible to get a capital intensive system for cities that would make the transportation much more accessi- ble to the rider and that would increase the ridership significantly by an order of magnitude, 3, 5, or l0?" I want to emphasize here we are not talking about improving the component state of the art. We are talking about improving the system state of the art. It seems to us that there are technologies coming along whereby if we use some of the state-of-the-art mechanical technologies and the rapidly advancing electronic technologies, we could get systems that would provide automatic-group-rapid-transport or personal-rapid-transit, or a combina- tion of these. The cost of development of these systems would be—if one wanted to have a program in the next five years—much more than the $50 million or so that is currently programmed by DOT. It might cost as much as $500 million in the next five to eight years to develop such a program. That is about a third of the cost of one fleet ballistic missile submarine. We do not guarantee that if we undertook this large program we would definitely get something that would succeed. One of the expectations we talked about, for example, was that we should, for the cost of a metro system, be able to increase the ridership by a fac- tor of, say, 5. It appears possible that a well-managed program that showed con- cern about the market and that brought along the right technology could produce this kind of quantum step forward. And it seems to us—notwith- standing the failures in technology in the past and the management problems in the past--that this country has done some large R§D projects that have turned out to be extremely successful and this option should be recognized and should be deliberately considered by the Department of Transportation and other people in the government. We also felt that some progress has been made in the highway tech- nology area. We had some experts who identified many areas in which considerably more could be done and result in a large payoff. We talked about the materials problem, asphalt and concrete, where there has been a lot of progress in the last l0 years, but now we know a lot more things that we would like to look into further--questions such as light- ing of roads and access and questions of maintenance technology and standards. It seemed to us that much more progress could be made in these areas. Certainly, the maintenance of the highways is one of the major challenges we are now finding. In the case of FAA, we felt that the automation of the en route control function should be given very high priority. As you probably know, today the surveillance function is heavily automated, including the processing of flight plans. But the control function itself is virtually completely manual. It seemed to us that the technology is in hand to have a much higher degree of automation of this control 234

OCR for page 197
function and that by doing this one would be able to get from New York to Washington flying on instruments in bad weather as fast as it can be done by flying visually. This would really help the airlines and the passengers. Automation would lower the number of controllers needed, even though there is increasing air traffic, particularly in general aviation. If the machine is properly programmed, and we are convinced that can be done, then it is going to be more attentive through the hours than the air traffic controllers can be. We think that this is an area that requires a high priority for development. In fact, in a mechanism that I will mention in a minute, all the user/operator/supplier elements of the industry seem to feel that this should be pushed ahead. I have mentioned already the great importance of a stronger techni- cal input into the regulation process. There are many cases in which we have not had good analysis. There has not been good economic analy- sis, data have been faulty, and experiments have been needed. I think one of the big advantages of having a much stronger technical arm in the OST would be to point out those cases, point out that the decisions are being made on the basis of fluff and prejudice and that they just cannot be justified. Hopefully, this will force people to do more rigorous homwork. I think also that something like Transbus, which has been mention- ed several times, might not have happended as easily if there had been a strong technical, acquisition-oriented voice that could have pointed out some of the problems in that procurement. Finally, we make three recommendations that are independent of modes. First, we support the general involvement of the federal govern- ment in basic research in those technologies that underpin the trans- portation business across the board. Many agencies could play a role here: NASA, DOE, EPA, DOD, and NSF included. We believe that it is DOT's responsibility to make an assessment of the funding that is taking place in those various agencies, find out where the gaps and the oppor- tunities are, and then recommend to them or undertake the right basic research programs. In this connection, it seems to us that the kind of program that is being talked about for automobile research, about $50 million a year, makes a lot of sense. Second, we think that DOT must place much greater emphasis on test and evaluation. One of our panelists told of the case where we raped the cities by giving them devices that were developed in part or in full by government funding that did not work adequately. Such cases give the whole approach a black eye. We would stress that where the department has been responsible for the development of an element, it also make sure that that element does undergo rigorous test and evaluation before it gets deployed. We also see a role where the department could provide some test facilities, such as it is now doing in the rail area, and somewhat in urban transit, that would facilitate the industry itself in undertaking better development and evaluation. The final recommendation of my report has been noted by other panels, and we also think it is very important. We believe that in order for R§D and technical decision making to be more relevant, there 235

OCR for page 197
must be much better communication among the DOT, the operators, the suppliers, the users, and some of the other interest groups. We think that the work that has been done, for example between the Association of American Railroads and the Federal Railroad Administration, is an excellent example of good communication. Another recent case has been the Federal Aviation Administration. Under pressure from the Hill to seek broad inputs on the future of air traffic control, the FAA esta- blished a committee that looked into different aspects of the air traffic control business. The committee came up with a surprising degree of consensus after very good communication, and now we know much better how to make progress in that area. DISCUSSION THOMPSON: I think everybody in this discussion is assuming that innovation is a good thing. I would like to put in a counterview. I listed six innovations in the transport field. One is the transverse engine with front wheel drive on cars. Another is the jet engine. The third is a hovercraft. The fourth is the high-speed train. The fifth is the linear induction motor for dragging anything along a rail. And the sixth is carbon fibers. I think it would be worthwhile for somebody to study why it is that the original innovator in all of these so far has not made any money on them. You could argue a good case that the way to success is to be second, not to be first. BENINGTON: I think one could also give some cases where companies themselves seem to have succeeded by being second. NEJAKO: I hope most people in the room recognize that the Urban Mass Transportation Administration spent some $30 million developing a test and evaluation capability that is part of the Transportation Test Center in Pueblo, Colorado. It is open to use by the rail transit supply industry. I think they are recognizing its availability much more frequently now. But I want it generally understood that that is a recommendation we began to implement back in about l972. CHESEBROUGH: I may sound like a cracked record, but I would like to speak as a self-appointed chairman of panel 6, representing the people. This country developed and became great by respecting people's freedoms, including freedom of choice. I hope we stay that way. I would like to remind the people that innovation in transportation will proceed only as fast as the emotional interests and pressures of people either demand or accept these innovations. We can create all kinds of sophisticated, technically sound, scientifically logical systems. But if the individual people do not recognize that these fall within their concept of what they want, such systems will become monuments similar to many of the marble buildings we have in this town. I want to reiterate that this is a facet that must continually be kept in mind. It is extremely difficult to determine in advance what people will accept, emotionally. They, themselves, cannot tell us. If questions are asked of consumer or buyer preference research groups, 236

OCR for page 197
one does not, very many times, get the right answers. That has been proved time and again when carefully researched marketing plans, pro- duct development plans, collapse upon hitting the market. So do not forget this element. I have been prompted to say this by a comment that was made, I know in good faith, that we must somehow or other find a way to get urban mass transit ridership up to the 20 percent level. I agree with that. But we had better make sure that 20 percent of the people feel the same way about it. LIST: As a second member of panel 6, I also hope that people's views are not neglected. DOT may be in many fields where they have no business, but assessing mobility, one of the recommendations of the panel on technology and R§D policies to stimulate innovation, panel 5, would be a very good logical function for DOT to perform. But assess- ing mobility is right in the middle of their mandate, and this is where the public comes into the picture. In other words, the ultimate criteri- on is whether it is useful. We have not paid enough attention to that. GORHAM: I want strongly to endorse the recommendations of at least two panels for the restoration of a center of responsibility for science and technology in DOT. There were many reasons for its aboli- tion. One was the primary desire to reduce the head count in the Office of the Secretary. But we lost a great deal when that was done. One of the recommendations of the panel on economic incentives, panel 3, in which I participated, may not have come through clearly. It was that now we are getting to a point where the rate of development of innova- tion in individual transit modes in some cases may be running out of steam. The big opportunity for development in innovation at the present moment is in the intermodal field. This can only be accomplished if we have some center within the Department of Transportation that looks across modes and considers the transportation functions of all of them. BISPLINGHOFF: Ladies and gentlemen: I want to thank all of you for your participation: the speakers, discussants, chairmen, and especially those who stayed with us to the finish. No one knows for sure what results will come from a conference of this kind, but I think we all agree that this kind of examination must be carried out if there is to be progress. The proceedings of the conference, we hope, will be published early next year. There also will be a committee report later in l980. It will include the ideas developed in this workshop, as well as information derived through other activities of the committee. We will do our very best to bring all of the suggestions brought forth in this workshop to the attention of people who are in a position to implement the ideas. We will do everything we can to bring these views to the attention of officials of DOT. In the past we have been able to do that at the highest levels of the department. Although there have been many changes in DOT in the past few weeks, we will present what you have told us to as many of the appropriate people as we can in the Department of Transportation. We plan to go to the leader- ship in the Congress in the transportation area, and to bring these recommendations and ideas to their attention. 237

OCR for page 197
We will certainly make this effort, and hope the net effect will be positive. Again, I express my gratitude to all of you for taking the time from your very busy schedules, and from the many other important duties you have, to be with us. We appreciate your attendance and your contri- butions. 238