Friday, April 9, 2021

S 651 Introduced - Smart Transportation Advancement and Transition Act

Last month Sen Cortez-Masto (D,NV) introduced S 651, the Smart Transportation Advancement and Transition (STAT) Act. The bill makes revisions to the current authorization for the Intelligent Transportation System Program Advisory Committee (ITSPAC). The bill also requires DOT to produce and periodically update a Smart Community Resource Guide.

ITSPAC Changes

Section 2 of the bill rewrites subsection (h) of note in 23 USC 512, the National ITS [Intelligent Transportation System] program plan. That subsection establishes the Intelligent Transportation System Program Advisory Committee. Changes were made to the membership requirements and the duties of the Committee. Additionally, paragraphs were added to the subsection to address the term of Committee Members, meeting requirements and assistance to the Committee by DOT.

The maximum membership of the Committee remains at 25 members, but additions were made to the list of backgrounds that must be included in the membership. The new additions include {new (h)(2)(A)(iii)}:

• A representative of a national transit association,

• A representative of a national, State, or local transportation agency or association,

• A private sector developer of intelligent transportation system technologies, including emerging vehicle technologies,

• An academic researcher with expertise in labor issues,

• A representative of a labor organization,

• A representative of a mobility-providing entity, including for seniors and people with disabilities,

• An expert in traffic management,

• A representative of a public interest group concerned with the impact of the transportation system on land use and residential patterns,

• A member with expertise in law enforcement; and

• A member with expertise in cybersecurity.

Two new annual review ‘duties’ were added to list of ITSPAC responsibilities in (h)(3)(B):

• How Federal resources, especially resources provided by the Department, are being utilized to advance intelligent transportation systems, and

• How the Department is engaging and supporting local communities in the adoption and integration of intelligent transportation systems across all modes.

Resource Guide

Section 4 of the bill requires DOT, in conjunction with ITSPAC, to produce, publish and maintain the Smart Community Resource Guide. The Guide would include {§4(c)}:

• A compilation of existing related Federal and non-Federal programs that are available to States and local communities in developing and implementing smart community transportation programs, including technical assistance, education, training, research and development, analysis, and funding,

• Available examples of States and local communities engaging private sector entities to carry out smart community transportation solutions, including public-private partnership models that could be used to leverage private sector funding to solve local challenges,

• Available examples of proven methods for States and local communities to facilitate the integration of smart community transportation technologies with, or within, new and existing infrastructure and systems,

• Best practices and lessons learned from smart community transportation demonstration projects, including information on return on investment and performance, to help other States and local communities to decide how to begin the integration of smart community transportation technologies.

DOT would be required to update the Guide every three years at a minimum.

Moving Forward

Cortez-Masto is not a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee to which this bill was assigned for consideration and there are currently no cosponsors to this legislation. This means that it is unlikely that she has the influence necessary to have this bill considered in Committee. Some of the additions to ITSPAC membership might draw some Republican opposition to this bill were it to be considered, but there could be some level of bipartisan support for this bill.

The bill is not important enough to be considered on the floor of the Senate under regular order and there would likely be enough opposition to ensure that it could not be considered under the Senate’s unanimous consent process. The bill could, however, be offered as an amendment to the annual transportation authorization bill and would probably be adopted if it came to a vote.


It is nice to see that someone thinks that outside cybersecurity expertise would be helpful to the DOT’s Intelligent Transportation System program. It is, however, disappointing that while the staffers that wrote this bill felt free to clarify the specific areas of expertise of many of the other mandatory members of ITSPAC, they left cybersecurity to a generic ‘expert in cybersecurity’. I would like to see a minor change in that wording:

“(XXI) a member with expertise in transportation systems cybersecurity.

I was also disappointed that there continues to be no mention of cybersecurity issues in the annual program review requirements for Committee. I would have liked to have seen the following addition to (h)(3)(B):

“(vi) whether cybersecurity concerns are being routinely addressed in research, implementation and management of intelligent transportation systems.”

Finally, ITS cybersecurity issues were also ignored in the requirements for the Smart Community Resource Guide. I would suggest that the following could be inserted in §4(c):

“(5) best practices to address cybersecurity issues in intelligent transportation systems to include:

“(A) Secure communications:

“(i)between vehicles,

“(ii) between vehicles and infrastructure, and

“(iii) between vehicles, infrastructure and traffic control or management systems,

“(B) Prevent ‘loss of control’ in vehicle operations, and

“(C) Prevent ‘loss of view’ of individual vehicles in traffic control systems.

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