Click for next page ( 46


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 45
REMARKS BY CHAIRMEN ON THE SCOPE OF PANEL DELIBERATIONS, PRESENTATION OF BACKGROUND PAPERS, AND DISCUSSANTS' COMMENTS 45

OCR for page 45

OCR for page 45
THE SETTING FOR INNOVATION REMARKS BY FOSTER L. WELDON My remarks will be rather brief. I plan only to outline a framework within which I think our panel can approach its assignment. In the process, I hope to suggest how we might view the setting for innovation as a starting point for our deliberations. People look at the term "setting" in different ways. For my own part, I would like to define setting as simply the environment within which a transportation change might take place. What I am hoping we can do is look at transportation needs in terms of performance require- ments and explore, then, why our abundant technology has not been appli- ed more effectively, instead of looking at what hardware might have been applied. In other words, we want to get away from specific hardware ideas in order to explore the larger setting: why technology has not been applied more fruitfully. I know I will get some arguments on this point, because many people say one cannot really look at the environment for innovation ex- cept in a specific problem context. That makes good sense. Certainly an innovative solution to an air-scheduling problem is developed in an environment that is quite different from that in which a productivity improvement in a marine terminal is made. But I have a rather simple-minded answer to that. If we imagine absolutely the worst environment for transportation innovation and if we suggest ways for improving that setting, then I think we will have some results that are generally applicable. That is what we will be trying to do, and, of course, the model "worst" environment that was in the back of my mind when I developed this discussion framework is the urban transportation setting. That is where the diffuse trip problems are. That is where most of the politi- cal problems are. Therefore, how does one categorize a worst environment from the point of view of looking at the setting for transportation innovation? I have selected four major headings that I believe cover everything we need to discuss. Number one is the governmental setting. I isolated that one because certainly almost everything that is planned or done in transportation is affected by or impinges on government in one way or another and at one or more levels. 47

OCR for page 45
Number two is the industrial-commercial setting. Industrial- commercial entities develop and provide almost all transportation equip- ment and services, so the environment there needs a clear look. Number three is the research setting. Why put that in? Well, research certainly is the foundation for long-range planning and develop- ment in transportation, and we need to take a good look at that side of the problem. The fourth heading is the implementation setting, not because it is distinct from the three already listed but because it will permit us to focus on some very refractory problems that are common to the other three categories. So, we have all these components to look at: governmental, indus- trial-commercial, research, and the catchall, implementation settings. Our overall objective, in looking at innovation in this framework, is to see if we can identify some recommended changes that will help DOT expedite the innovative process. The governmental setting necessarily includes the federal govern- ment, state governments, and local governments—all those city, county, township, and special purpose districts or authorities that are set up to monitor or to operate transportation. The federal level appears to be the best source of funding for innovative programs, but unfortunately, the federal government is not the real customer for transportation innovation. Unfortunately again, the local arena, which really is the customer in almost every case, is a hodgepodge of all sorts of different quasi-governmental agencies that all have different ideas about what is good for them. At last count, in our 200-plus standard metropolitan statistical areas, there were more than l8,000 governmental units—a highly fractionated customer indeed to be convinced and compromised into accepting any innovative idea in trans- portation. What types of questions will we be asking about this governmental setting? A few examples: Is there any way to stimulate innovation at the local level simply through a judicious choice of initial projects? Demonstration programs have tried time and time again, but too often by the time a project gets approved it has been so compromised to accom- modate conflicting viewpoints that it does not represent innovation at all, and by the time the project is in place it contains nothing more than off-the-shelf components and concepts. Other obvious questions: How can federal resources best be deploy- ed to promote innovation? Not just through funding alone but perhaps through basic research? How about the state's role? What is it now? More or less a pass-through agency for funds? What should it be? We have a lot to look at under this heading. In the industrial-commercial setting, there are at least four factors we must consider—the equipment suppliers; the transport system operators; the architectural, engineering, and construction firms; and the special interest organizations, that is the professional, occupa- tional, and industrial associations that represent the others. All are important in the innovation scene, and we want to find out what their influences are. 48

OCR for page 45
One thing that needs to be pointed out is that the equipment suppliers and the transport system operators certainly represent a rather mature industry that is heavily invested in fixed plant. In other words, they have characteristics that are not particularly conduc- ive to entrepreneurial or agile innovation. We want to examine whether this is indeed a deterrent to innovation and what might be done to change the situation. The architectural, engineering, and construction firms, (A-E and C companies), though not similarly burdened with fixed plant, may also have a built-in inertia to change that derives from all of the rigid standards under which they must operate. Just building codes, for example, and con- struction standards may create significant deterrents to innovation. The special interest organizations and trade associations are generally dedicated to status quo, I believe, to protect the interests of their membership. So there is a lot of inertia in all these areas, and the kind of question we will be asking is, what can DOT do to help overcome this resistance to change? As to the research setting, at least four types of research facili- ties enter into the picture. These are the government R§D facilities, the industrial R§D facilities, the academic research centers, and the independent research organizations. Government R§D certainly houses a great deal of research talent and facilities, but I do not believe that transportation is really getting a fair share of the spinoff from all of these resources. Very little, in my experience, has been brought directly to bear on transportation problems from this source. Theoretically, the industrial R§D actitivities are available to DOT through the request for proposal (RFP) process, but here, again, there are some serious problems. Many companies are reluctant to par- ticipate in bidding for a number of reasons, e.g., contract restrictions on the direction of effort, allowable costs. In the academic centers, I detect a considerable decline in inno- vative transportation activity. There is really no transportation curriculum in most institutions, and transportation centers themselves, in some cases, at least, are suffering from what all universities are going through now, declining enrollment and increasing costs. The first cuts are bound to come in the nondepartmental activities of the university. So that leaves the independent research organizations that are specially well-organized to handle the RFPs and respond to government proposals. A lot of good work is done in this sector, but that sort of activity does not fulfill the university role of producing young, inno- vative talent to go into industrial transportation activities. The fourth category is the setting for implementation; without implementation there is, of course, no innovation. Certain factors here are particularly important. One is the physical system character- istic of transportation. This inhibits any kind of innovation, or so it is said, just by virtue of its size. It is massive; it is complex^ and how can one change it significantly in any reasonable time frame? This is one aspect of the implementation setting that I would like to look at very critically. 49

OCR for page 45
Labor-management attitudes and objectives also need to be singled out and looked at very carefully. Associated with these are the mar- ket characteristics and certain human and organization factors that inhibit innovation. One final point in regard to the implementation of innovative trans- portation concepts is the terrible dilemma that faces a transportation innovator in the private sector. He cannot really risk massive company funds to test a system for which he has no measure of the down-the-road payoff. Certainly, it would be possible to construct fancy demand models to predict performance for expanding present transportation sys- tems, but for a really innovative system change there are no hard data to plug into the model short of building and testing the new concept. A prudent manager simply cannot put money into that kind of thing. One cannot afford to put a good idea into action just to get the data one needs to evaluate the risks of the idea as an ongoing commercial venture. This business of the speculative nature of transportation innova- tion leads directly into labor-management questions as well. Risking front-end money is only a small part of the picture in proceeding with a transportation innovation. There is the risk of upsetting the esta- blished labor-management relationships that are the foundation of the transportation business that one had before the innovation. So, the prospective change could mean risking more than the initial cost of in- novation; it could mean risking one's whole business, because a strike could shut down and even ruin it. Aside from labor problems, there are organizational and human factors. Organizations and people are uncomfortable with change. If things are going well, why rock the boat? And so it is the very com- panies that can afford innovation that are least likely to try it because they are doing all right anyway and they could put the front- end money back into their existing business at no risk and probably make out just as well. INNOVATION AND THE STRUCTURE OF TRANSPORTATION ACTIVITIES BY WILLIAM L. GARRISON Our thesis is structural and deterministic — innovation in transportation is constrained by the structures of transportation activities that pro- vide the environments for innovation and its adoption. Innovation and technology supply, in turn, affect industry structure. In addition, transportation activities adhere to development paths that may be describ- ed as growth "dynamics," patterns, or cycles; innovation opportunities and impacts differ upon the growth dynamic circumstances. We begin our analysis of transportation innovation by describing the principal features of transportation activities and characterizing innovation and technology deployment activities. The discussion then narrows to the analysis of the characteristics of the separate modes 50

OCR for page 45
and their components; guideways, vehicles, control technologies, and institutions. We will examine characteristics of transportation that affect innovation and are common to all modes, characteristics such as the standardization necessary to link individual modes into networks. This analysis will explain the present status of innovation and provide a basis for recommendations to better orient and accelerate innovation and technology deployment activities. Although we will use the extensive literature dealing with the many aspects of innovation processes, our organizing focus is that of indus- try structure, a focus reflected only in bits and pieces in the innova- tion literature. We believe that more attention should be given to the structures of activities that provide the environments for innovation. This atten- tion might clarify the diverse findings of empirical studies such as those reviewed by Johnson (l975, chapter 4).l It also might explain why innovation differs among industries, the factors that condition the diffusion of innovation knowledge and its disregard or adoption, and the social and economic roles of innovative individuals and organiza- tions. Concerns about innovation follow from the heavy investment of government and some industries in research; the regulatory, taxation, patent, and other policies of governments that might accelerate or dampen innovation and its adoption; and the role of innovation in economic growth, including its contribution to the comparative advan- tage of one nation versus others. To respond to these general concerns and our specific interest in transportation, we make three recommenda- tions at the end of this paper: to strengthen the assessment of com- ponent technology development, to better define needs for systems, and to better formulate systems alternatives. Although these recommendations are different from those of studies that have examined the national scene, such as the Charpie (U.S. Depart- ment of Commerce, l967) report, we believe our recommendations have a broad application. In particular, these suggestions with suitable adaption might be generalized to public facilities such as water supply systems, communication systems, and the post office. (Elsewhere, we have written about the rather striking similarities between these sys- tems and transportation [l978]). TRANSPORTATION Viewed in a general, simplified manner, transportation is performed when force is applied to displace a mass (soil erosion, the drilling of cavities in teeth, and the flight of an airplane are all transporta- tion) . Viewed narrowly, a transportation innovation is the organiza- tion of a physical system to perform that work in some purposeful man- ner. Even before the building of pyramids, innovative groups and indi- viduals had thought of ways to enable and control the displacement of masses. Five major transportation modes—rail, air, highway, water, and pipeline—make up today's systems. In order to adopt and deploy 51

OCR for page 45
technologies, institutional structures were necessary and they were created; railroads and airline companies are pieces of the structure. Some things about transportation industries are not so obvious. Why are there five major modes and not some other number? (Here, we are viewing transit as a variation of rail and highway.) Why do some modes involve both public and private activities and others appear less splintered? Does it matter? Why do innovation and technology activi- ties differ, and what needs to be done to improve those activities? What are innovation opportunities? These are simple questions where simple answers do not give insight. Growth Dynamics One useful way to approach these questions is to think of the modes as evolving in a dynamic of physical systems-institutional systems-market systems. The history of the automobile highway system during this century provides an example. The automobile was the triggering innova- tion, the putting together of the wagon chassis with a steam, electric, or gasoline engine; then came the application of vehicle control pro- tocols to wagons and buggies—the operator guided the vehicle and obey- ed the rules of the road. At first, the automobile was truly a rich man's toy; it was expensive and had little use, for the road system did not accommodate travel. But the situation changed drastically in only a decade or two. By the l920s a paved roadway system suitable for auto- mobile and lightweight trucks was expanding rapidly (Figure l). A variety of innovations such as lightweight steels, improved testing methods, and assembly line production was improving and reducing the cost of automobiles. The market was also adjusting as suburbanization, new patterns of employment, and a different wholesale and retail dis- tribution pattern emerged. The dynamic was energized by improvements in accessibility. The decision to purchase a vehicle enabled the user to gain accessibility provided by the road system and offered by changes in patterns of pro- duction and consumption. The gasoline tax, a financial mechanism, link- ed automobile use to road improvements, but it was truly the expansion of accessibility opportunities that shaped the dynamic. This dynamic involved more than the innovation of a physical system, its deployment, and market adaptions. Institutions were neces- sary; they too required innovation. The Alfred P. Sloan type manufac- turing industry was one such innovation; financial institutions provid- ing installment credit were another. Institutions to provide the high- way system evolved, state highway departments were created or modified, and local government and federal institutions and financing arrangements were formed. Vehicle insurance, driver training, and traffic engineer- ing institutions were also established. 52

OCR for page 45
-112 1900 1910 1930 1930 WO 1950 I960 !9?0 1980 FIGURE l. Comparison of passenger car sales (sales [Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association, 1977]H shown every fifth year [l940 to l945 eliminated] to l970, annual thereafter to l976.) with total and surfaced mileage of roads and streets (rural roads and municipal streets [U.S. Bureau of the Cen- sus, l975],5 series begins in l92l, ends in l970). Each transportation technology form has a growth dynamic. Table l characterizes each technology or mode within its dynamic, and the inno- vation and technology adoption that corresponds to the phase of its dynamic. Now we will turn to the reasons for variations in innovation and technology activities and lay a basis for recommendations to improve those activities. The dynamic for a technology has beginning conditions from which it emerges. The highway system provides an example. The King's high- ways of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were swaths along which people could walk and drive animals. Improvements were limited to lay- ing stones for footing over poor ground and the providing of narrow bridges. In the l700s, wagon and carriage traffic increased rapidly with the extension of maritime and colonial activities; a dynamic 53

OCR for page 45
TABLE l. Characterization of Transportation Innovation and Technology Deployment Status of Transportation Technologies and Their Institutions Innovation and Technology Activities Near the end, at, or past their growth dynamic—mass transit, rail freight, automobile Frenetic search for technologies to reduce costs and to meet constraints including: political requirements for service in high cost markets, regulatory, labor, capital, and insti- tutional ; much government involvement in technology matters; technologies of limited scope (e.g., improved ways to empty fare collection boxes, better rail wheels, lightweight automobile hoods); there are narrow (e.g., tech- nology is needed for filling potholes) and sometimes suboptimal views of technology needs; some interest in new systems when the technology is well past its growth dynamic, e.g, personal rapid transit; interest in technologies to protect traditional markets, e.g., TOFC and COFC. In rapid growth phase—truck highway, pipelines, inland waterways, air. Near the beginning of their growth dynamic--slurry pipelines; container, roll-on, roll-off, and large-bulk ships, Alternative technological and/or in- stitutional forms continue develop- ment from early growth dynamic phase, e.g., specialized contract carrier trucks, new aircraft, product and slurry pipelines, and the United Par- cel Service; technology responding to safety and environmental regulation, other constraints may be pushed aside by productivity gains, although they affect the technology, e.g., Air Line Pilots Association work and pay re- quirements; search for technologies for system expansion, e.g., efficient short-range aircraft Search among the technological and institutional forms for old and new markets; high productivity pushes aside constraints other than environ- mental and safety; little government involvement; industry factors seek standardization. 54

OCR for page 45
responding to demand began. Highways were developed for wagons and carriages, with the assistance of local government and tollway organi- zations. Plank roads were used in the United States. The macadam road in England is remembered from this period, although McAdam's genius lay more in the organization and financing of highway building and mainten- ance than in the type of surface ordinarily associated with his name (Webb and Webb, l9l3)6; there was nothing new about that. Another example of a dynamic running its course, slowing, and be- ginning again, starts with the "break of bulk" steamship in the late 1800s. By the l920s, there was a stagnation of technology (and institu- tion and market) development. Recently, containerization and the use of larger container ships and large bulk ships have set off a new dynamic. The highway system provides several examples of the reenergizing of a dynamic. The interstate system in the l960s enabled higher driv- ing speeds that, together with market shifts, continued to improve access until recently. Early in the century the highway-truck system evolved rapidly, serving mainly a local collector-distributor function. Improvements in the regional roads in the l930s and l940s and develop- ment of the interstate system later set off another truck dynamic which continues running its course. Conditions at the beginning of a development dynamic include insti- tutions and market conditions, each with its claims on resources. Much of the market is subject to the "tooth and claw" of free enterprise; its evolution with the growth dynamic is relatively unfettered compar- ed with other aspects of the dynamic. But market conditions and the difficulties of changing them are not to be dismissed completely. As we have discussed elsewhere (Garrison, l978),•* systems users claim a right to transportation service, and much of government regulation of transportation service and subsidy, such as that of mass transit, is to offset changes resulting from growth and the new interplay of technology forms. Institutional change has a dynamic of its own and usually occurs with the creation of new institutions. Once created, even new institu- tions reflect the conditions of the times in which they were created and become a brake on change. The railroad organizations of today exhibit conditions from the time of their origins. Their geographical division, for example, reflects communications and logistics conditions that existed over a century ago. The railroads have changed, of course, but the basic organizational frame remains. The railroads put carriages on steel wheels; routes were laid out primarily for passenger traffic. In the United States the abundance of coal and early adoption of high-pressure steam engines, along with the constraints on labor, including construction management skills, affected the grades and layout of today's routes (Williams, l976)'. The light- weight four-wheel carriage became a l00-ton or more freight car riding on four-wheel trucks, with up to 36-inch wheels and a much higher center of gravity than the carriage transformed to a railroad car. Although physical technology has changed incrementally and is radically different from what it was in the beginning conditions. G. Plowman has identified (to the author in a letter) the increasing of gauge, doing away with 55

OCR for page 45
early familiarity with the equipment in a forgiving environ- ment. However, the ILS signal quality is less satisfactory in this environment than under poor visibility conditions, such as CAT II, when aircraft must avoid areas that adverse- ly affect the ILS signal quality. The autoland system follows the ILS vagaries faithfully, but the pilot is sure he can accomplish a better landing manually, so the pilot decouples, his familiarity suffers and his reluctance to use autoland increases. Unfortunately there are other inconsis- tencies between some ATC procedures and autoland capabilities. Furthermore, the reliability specification is unrealistically high. Therefore its complexity is great and maintenance expensive. When aircraft operators realize autoland is not used frequently by pilots, they are less fastidious about its maintenance. This discourages pilots even more. Obviously, coordination between pilots, manufacturers, operators, FAA flight standards and MLS advocates is needed if autoland is to become a reality as NTSB suggests. Could an organization or process within FAA coordinate all the participants in an effort to achieve utilization of autoland? Another example has to do with airport capacity. Exquisite integration is needed between runway, exit and taxiway design, terminal automation, M§S, wake vortex avoid- ance, MLS and surveillance of the surface and the terminal airspace, in order to squeeze capacity into airports safely. Could an organization or process within FAA—perhaps as an extension of the present Airport Task Forces—integrate the various components needed to improve airport capacity on a site specific basis? One last example deals with upgrading the air traffic control process in centers and terminals. This is a huge and necessary undertaking. The development of the desired ATC capabilities requires significant effort in two areas: first, the establishment of new automation concepts, the related operational procedures and the corresponding computer algorithms; second, the procurement and implementation of the necessary hardware and software to support the automation requirements. The first of these two tasks may well be the most time consuming and difficult since it involves explora- tion of some fundamental changes to the ATC process itself. The removal of rotating beacons from airport terminals and compass locators from outer markers has caused pilots unnecessary difficulties measured against the trivial cost of maintaining these facilities. In some cases, pilots will not accept a visual clearance to an airport on a clear night because they cannot identify the terminal against a background of urban lighting in the absence of a rotating beacon. This decreases aiport capacity and increases controller work load. While this issue is not as significant as most E§D policies discussed previously, it is included here to illustrate the value of formal user consultation. l86

OCR for page 45
These quotations indicate the value of formal consultation with private sector users of the government-operated ATC system to be sure that federal programs respond to perceived needs. The users know they fund E§D products through the trust fund and were not reckless with their suggestions. As one can see from this abstract of user comments, FAA has had difficulty completing programs in a timely way owing to money limitations and the long and burdensome process of obtaining approvals for technological developments through FAA, DOT, OMB, and the Congress. DOT STIMULATION OF RAILROAD INNOVATION--WHERE IT IS NEITHER CUSTOMER NOR USER The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) also has a problem making sure that its R§D is consistent with the needs of the railroads. As was in- dicated previously, some early programs were driven by technology rather than market needs, and the results were unfortunate. In recent years, FRA and the Association of American Railroads (AAR) have developed a way of jointly funding R§D programs. An evaluation of this process for AAR concluded^: ...The AAR's policy of bringing 'funds to the table,' negotiating joint programs and maintaining a high level of R§D competence within AAR to orchestrate the effort is an excellent approach to public/private sector management of R§D. Neither the Air Transport Association (ATA) nor the American Public Transit Association (APTA) has done as well as AAR in recent years in modulating federal R§D programs to meet user needs. This is the case despite the fact that APTA represents local governments—pub lie bodies—while AAR represents mostly private sector interests. AAR's better record seems to be due to at least two factors; neither APTA nor ATA invests money in R§D and neither organization has a strong R§D capability. As a result, members of ATA have had to install safety equipment of dubious value developed and mandated by the FAA; and APTA has had to endure various bus and train demonstration programs that they felt were inappropriate and badly executed and that have led to mandated equipment they do not wish to operate. DOT STIMULATION OF TRANSIT INNOVATION--WHERE IT IS AN INDIRECT CUSTOMER BUT NOT A USER The Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA) funds R§D that it hopes will be useful to the transit properties, most of whom are supported by 2 "Joint Public/Private Sector Management of Railroad R§D," Economics and Science Planning, Inc., May 24, l977. l87

OCR for page 45
capital and operating grants from UMTA. Many issues face: ...federally supported R§D when (l) the ultimate customer is not the federal government but local transit properties; (2) the ultimate user is the public with many diverse interests; (3) the manufacturers' investment in development and tooling is predicated not only on market forces but also on federal and local regulations and procurement policies and most particularly their steadiness; and (4) there are government concerns about anticompetitive concentration. Some observers have described transit system develop- ment under these circumstances as follows: The user is not the buyer, the buyer doesn't pay for it, the payer usually doesn't buy it or use it, the operator is a professional who doesn't use it, pay for it, or buy it. An Office of Technology Assessment report4 evaluated some early UMTA efforts as follows: The Transbus program focused on a product rather than development of the key components that would make that pro- duct practical in revenue service. Fearing increased main- tenance and reliability costs and service penalties because of the uncertain status of key components, such as canti- levered tires, brakes and axles, the transit operators with- drew their support. Transbus as initially proposed and con- ducted was overly ambitious, expensive for what was accom- plished and delayed an interim or advanced bus. Future financial support for Transbus could be used more effective- ly if directed at component development and evaluation. The transit operators view the SOAC (State-of-the-Art- Car) demonstration with mixed feelings. To some it was use- ful, to others it was not. Urban Mass Transportation Ad- ministration (UMTA) during the period l968-l972 took the approach that aerospace technology and management techniques could offer substantial benefits to the transit industry. In this spirit, UMTA determined that a SOAC demonstration would be useful even though it incorporated no new technology. The ACT (Advanced Concept Train) program was overly ambitious, troubled with unrealistic cost estimates, late deliveries and management problems. ACT incorporated in its subsystems several important technological innovations which, when proven, are likely to be adopted by transit properties. An ACT program aimed at subsystem development and evaluation rather than construction of an integrated vehicle might well have been more effective at less cost. Present UMTA manage- ment has recognized this situation and has instituted an Advanced Subsystem Development Program with these objectives. •* "Transit Vehicle R§D--Transbus, SOAC and ACT," United States Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, March 8, l977. 4 Ibid. l88

OCR for page 45
UMTA should support research, development and demonstra- tions of train and bus advanced technologies, particularly at the subsystem level, that would lead to improved transit vehicles. It is not an effective use of federal money to develop conventional transit vehicles as final products, since transit manufacturers can more effectively do this based on specifications developed by the transit operators. These specifications will incorporate new subsystems appropriate to each local transit property when they are shown to be effec- tive by UMTA or industry. Standardization at the subsystem level is frequently achieved through a procurement process that permits transit properties some discretion. Most of the drive trains and engines on current buses are standard without federal regula- tion other than the consent decree of l965. UMTA's heavy rail car standardization efforts at the subsystem performance and interface level promise to be beneficial. Standardiza- tion of the total vehicle design is likely to be unproduc- tive. The ability to deliver R§D to the transit properties is dependent on federal policies relating to procurements, grants, regulations and standards as much as on the R§D pro- cess itself. These interactions and some alternatives are discussed in the report. This assessment has focused on conventional transit vehicles. Other policies may be appro- priate to high risk advanced transit system development. There has also been concern with advanced transit system develop- ment. One expression of this was the formation in l976 of the Advanced Transit Association (ATRA)—a group of urban planners, transit techno- logists, and transit operators who felt that APTA represented transit system operators but not necessarily individuals who used transit sys- tems or urban planners. Its purpose is, "(l) To improve the quality of urban life through the judicious application of advanced technology and planning concepts to transit services; (2) To disseminate informa- tion on advanced transit to the members, to the interested professions, to the public, and to representatives of all levels of government; and (3) To improve the quality of transit-system analysis, planning, design and implementation." Another expression of concern has resulted from a recent review of European, particularly German, progress in advanced technology transit, occasioned by the International Transportation Exposition in Hamburg in June l979. The consensus of congressional, DOT, and private sector individuals is that the United States is substantially behind demonstra- ted German technology whether it be M-Bahn (magnetic levitation), C-Bahn (CRT or PRT), S-Bahn (commuter rail), U-Bahn (rail rapid transit), or Strassen-Bahn (street rail). One irony in this situation is that the two outstanding texts on high-technology transit were published recently (l978) by two Americans—Transit Systems Theory by J. Edward Anderson and Fundamentals of Personal Rapid Transit by Jack H. Irving. There is nothing wrong with the U.S. ability to conceptualize and analyze, but l89

OCR for page 45
evidently the United States does not produce prototype hardware. A U.S. urban planner has to travel to Germany today to view the full range of transit options. DOT lack of support for developing and testing tran- sit options has led to this debacle. Some quotations from the trip reports of several federal U.S. observers make the point: Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes, Siemens, MBB, and many others had exhibits featuring new technology in electronic controls and safety systems. The most disappointing exhibit was the U.S. exhibit put on by DOT. It featured the minicars RSV, the UMTA paratransit vehicle, an air bag display, and photo- graphs of President Carter and Brock Adams. On Sunday I flew to Hamburg to attend and participate in the IVA. A great deal of money and effort went into the exhibits themselves with representation primarily from European countries. The European supply industry displays of equipment and new technology developments were impressive. To the contrary, the U.S. exhibit was somewhat embarrassing for its lack of any significant equipment or technology offerings. I diagnosed with some chagrin and envy that...it is now a virtual certainty that at least two Japanese systems (more ambitious than ours), one French system, and one German system will become operational before we open our first DPM.... To me, it seems that other industrialized nations can move much faster in making decisions and implementing them than the United States....We have a long way to go to obtain this kind of commitment by transit to consider new technologies. ...a feeling of a truly cooperative joint effort between government, transit operators, and the equipment suppliers in developing new transit technologies and techniques, is needed as well as more cooperation than I believe exists in the United States today, although it is possible that the harmony was more a promotion for the visiting delegation than in reality exists. Still, it is difficult to imagine an experience such as the Transbus controversy taking place in Germany.... Thus UMTA has evidently failed to stimulate innovation where other countries have succeeded. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS It is clear that transportation innovation has not prospered under DOT management. During the first half decade of DOT's history (l967-l972), technological developments supported by DOT too frequently lacked a market. Evidently, there has now been an overcorrection—at least in certain modes—and technological possibilities and even requirements are not being developed at the needed pace or in some cases at all. l90

OCR for page 45
The modal administrations within DOT seem to have learned to work with users in recent years so that technological developments tend to satisfy user needs. But the technologists within the modal administra- tions have not been able to push through the thicket of bureaucratic stifling of innovation within their own modes, within the DOT super- visory structure, within OMB, and within the Congress. Maybe no mortal could. Perhaps the bureaucratic maze should be unravelled. One example should suffice: In Germany, the Ministry of Research and Technology has a staff of two devoted to urban transit development. UMTA has a staff of 65, many of whom are evidently consumed in modal, DOT, OMB, and congressional justifications and contractual procedures. Recall that with this staff of two, Germany is outperforming the United States. Recommendation: Streamline the technological approval process in DOT and the federal government. There is no political stability in DOT. There have been five secretaries of transportation in l0 years, as well as five UMTA admini- strators. Not one of these rose through the ranks, a sign of a badly managed enterprise. Each secretary tended to reverse the policies of his predecessor. Volpe wanted to mandate air bags, Brinegar felt the decision should be left to the private sector, Coleman wanted to test air bags, Adams mandated air bags, and now we have Goldschmidt. Volpe wanted to mandate Transbus, Brinegar wanted to leave it to the transit operators, Coleman selected Transbus parameters acceptable to operators and manufacturers, Adams mandated more stringent parameters, and opera- tors and manufacturers "got off the bus." Innovation cannot prosper in such a highly politicized department. Recommendation: Depoliticize DOT, at the very least depoliticize the technological components of DOT. Consider whether modal administra- tors could be bipartisan, appointed for six-year terms, preferably from the ranks. A change in administration in the United States involves a change in 4,000 top government professionals, usually within six months. This is an impossible task to do well. Germany, England, France, and Japan change only 40-70 top jobs with a change in administration. They seem to maintain political control. Innovation seems to do better with federal stimulus where the federal government is the customer—air traffic control—and least well where the government is neither the user nor the customer--the automo- tive industry. Recommendation: Deploy R§D assets where it is more appropriate for federal involvement in technological development, that is from the auto- motive industry to air traffic control, for example. Railroad and transit R§D are also more appropriate recipients of federal technologi- cal development aid, since the long history of federal regulation in railroad transportation stifled innovation and adaptability and since the federal government funds most transit capital gains. l9l

OCR for page 45
DISCUSSANT'S COMMENTS BY HOWARD K. NASON There has been general agreement at this meeting that technological inno- vation comprises the successful introduction and diffusion of new pro- ducts, processes, or services, using new technologies or new combina- tions of technologies that distinguish the innovation from its predeces- sors. There also has been a consensus that, in the United States at least, the creation and introduction of such innovations is a function of the industrial sector. But the essential final step of the innova- tion process, commercial acceptance, is controlled by the public. Inno- vation has not been accomplished until the user makes the critical deci- sion to buy it. Morlok and Goldmuntz, of this panel, and Garrison, of the Panel on the Setting for Innovation, examine in their position papers many of the complexities of the innovation process. They specifically probe the many factors involved in innovation in transportation. From their contributions and from the views of other participants in the workshop, we can see a number of areas of common concern. THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY R§D and the technology it generates are essential elements of innova- tion. Standing as they do at the beginning of the process, they have been taken by many to be the most important element in the chain. Speakers at this meeting separately have emphasized that every link in the chain is essential and that if any one is defective the entire pro- cess fails. Capital to carry the technology into production; marketing skills to insure a match of user needs and wants with ability to manu- facture and to secure consumer acceptance; and overall management to insure integration of each step in the process, to make sure that social as well as economic and market requirements are served by the innova- tion, and to secure a return sufficient to repay the costs of the inno- vation and to help support development of successive ones, are all required. Thus a climate supportive of all steps in the innovation process is essential. It is the role of management, whether in industry, govern- ment, academia, or other institutions to insure the perpetuation of such a climate. Technology thus is a concern of all elements of our society. There seems to be agreement that technology per se is in good health in America, with support in all sectors. Specifically, there seems to be no lack of innovative components and processes for application in l92

OCR for page 45
transportation. There does seem to be a shortfall in the understand- ing of total systems, into which components and processes must be integrated if they are to be useful. Also, knowledge of valid user needs and wants, as they relate to various modes or combinations of modes, and to the opportunities for innovation in these, seems to be in need of improvement. Both private and public sectors need to develop better capabilities in these areas. Charpie cautions that user needs are not always what users say they want. PUBLIC ATTITUDES Public opinion is important to innovation, not only with respect to acceptance but also with respect to the support of R§D, to the genera- tion of investment capital, and to the maintenance of a favorable climate for constructive change. Several speakers expressed concern over the pejorative antipathy between public and private sectors that is evident today, intensified by misguided utterances that seem to receive more attention from the media than is warranted by validity or merit. Public ignorance of elementary economic realities is especially damaging to innovation. Lack of understanding of investment, profit, savings, and of who ultimately must pay the costs, leads to political pressures resulting in actions very damaging to savings, creation of capital, investment, and modernization, which are essential to innova- tion, productivity, international competitiveness, and the maintenance of quality of life. It is felt that government should take a positive, rather than an adversary, approach to such problems. ROLE OF GOVERNMENT On a number of issues there seems to be a consensus, both in the pre- pared papers and in the discussions. Such issues include the following: l. Support of basic knowledge. While industry and universities will continue to make substantial contributions to the support of basic research, the majority of the funding should continue to come from the federal government. (This holds true for most other industrial nations also.) Most of the actual performance of basic research should continue to be done in the universities. 2. Support of generic technology. Where the development of basic knowledge into technology that is generic to an entire industry or to several industries, and where the cost of such development is too great for any company or group of companies to bear, support by government is appropriate, subject to reservations discussed below. Such support is most effective when industry and academe participate in planning, fund- ing, and execution. 3. Establishment of objectives. Government could make a major contribution by catalyzing the establishment of overall, long-range objectives for innovation in a technology or in an area of social need. l93

OCR for page 45
Nowhere .is this more evident than in transportation where national needs should be evaluated from the standpoint of total systems, of their in- teractions, and of their relationships to other national goals. Defini- tion of needs for innovative technologies would flow from such efforts. 4. Climate. Government plays a critical role in determining the climate for innovation and productivity. It should make sure that its actions contribute to a climate favoring initiative in the creation and application of technology to the total innovation process, and parti- cularly should emphasize the avoidance or the removal of disincentives that its other activities may create. Control of inflation is an essential step. Elimination of confiscatory tax policies, and the adop- tion of policies favoring savings and investment are needed to fuel vital steps of the innovation process. Regulation and direct control of technical and economic matters must be handled so that innovation is encouraged rather than inhibited. And management processes in government must be depoliticized if they are to be effective. 5. Direct intervention. Government should intervene directly in the latter stages of innovation only where market forces clearly are incapable of meeting a national need. Examples include streets and highways, waterways, public health, area sanitation, etc. Public acceptance, as evidenced by willingness to buy a new product or service, remains the most potent decision-making element. Government should avoid intervening in product or process decisions and should guard against attempts to impose new technologies, however otherwise attrac- tive they may appear to be. ROLE OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR The private sector has responsibilities to insure diversity in the creation and delivery of goods and services that meet society's needs. The public is the ultimate judge of success; it buys or it does not. Not every innovation—not even most innovations—will win such accept- ance. An industry's overall track record in winning such acceptance will determine its survival. Not every innovator will survive. Many will not deserve to survive. That some deserving ones will not survive is unfortunate, but survival of the fittest is the determinate of fitness. Artificial props to prevent failure of unacceptable innova- tions never succeed in the long run. Industry thus has fundamental responsibilities, to the public and the consumer, to its employees, and to its investors. Failure to meet any of these responsibilities fully constitutes failure of the whole. INSTITUTIONALIZATION Transportation is highly institutionalized between transport companies themselves (railways, airlines, shipping companies, bus and truck companies, etc.), regional operators (e.g., transport authorities, Amtrak, Conrail, etc.), suppliers (component and equipment manufacturers), l94

OCR for page 45
associations, and a variety of governmental bodies involved in every phase of the process. This affords an opportunity as well as a challenge. Opportunity for an intermodal engineering systems approach, in which all sectors, public and private, could participate constructively, from earliest conceptual and planning phases to final delivery and operational phases. How can we integrate (compromise) public and private roles in decision making? We have historic models that provide clues as to how or how not to do it. One of the best of these is the example of the former National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics. NACA never designed airplanes. But it provided basic technology of great sophistication, which the industry then incorporated into advanced designs, which led to aeronautical pre- dominance for America. Industry, academia, and government working together produced superior basic technology, and through its applica- tion, innovation. NASA, which absorbed NACA, on the other hand, has lost the touch for this kind of collaboration, and innovation has suffered. Examples from the Department of Defense as contrasted to those from the AEC/ERDA/DOE provide the same kind of lesson. Bob Charpie drew stimulating conclusions. In sum, those in attendance came through strongly for a participat- ing systems approach for innovation in transportation, with appropriate inputs by government, industry, and the academic community, not domina- ted by one sector, but guided by the fundamental principles that have been shown as controlling for the process of innovation. A readjust- ment of the role of government, and of its image of that role, clearly is indicated. l95

OCR for page 45