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Public Roads - Jan/Feb 1999

Editor's Notes

On Being Clever

I recently spent a few days at Walt Disney World in Florida, and I came away very impressed by the Disney transportation system. The Disney folks are masters of getting people where they want to go quickly and easily throughout Walt Disney World, which includes four major theme parks, two entertainment and shopping complexes, 17 Disney resorts/hotels, seven affiliated "official Walt Disney World hotels," seven golf courses, three water parks, and the Disney Institute.

It occurred to me that the Disney transportation system parallels the guiding principles of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Both FHWA and Disney are committed to excellence in service to their customers; both seek to leverage technology and innovation to ensure the most efficient, effective, and environmentally sensitive intermodal transportation system; and both strive for quality and continuous improvement.

And similar to FHWA's goals for safety, mobility and productivity, the Disney system is safe, multimodal and intermodal - moving people by bus, several types of boats, and monorail - efficient (quick and easy for the user), reliable (operates on continuous cycle, ensuring not only a relatively short waiting time but also adequate "capacity" to move the large number of riders efficiently), and integrated (allowing the rider to change carriers or modes easily using a single transportation pass).

The folks at Disney are very clever (characterized by being skillful, resourceful, and ingenious). Their transportation system is the result of great planning and design, which can be seen, for example, in the waterway connections between some of the resorts and theme parks.

Of course, the projects and problems faced by FHWA and its partners in their quest to "create the best [national] transportation system in the world" are much more numerous, massive, and complex than the anything Disney has to deal with in its very controlled environment. However, that simply makes the need to be clever so much more essential, and a changing environment shaped by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) and by the restructuring of FHWA increases the need to think "outside the box."

FHWA and its partners are also very clever, and Public Roads has reported many of the ways they are leveraging technology and innovation - everything from deployments of integrated, intelligent transportation systems in urban and rural areas to innovative, highway financing methods. The objective of Public Roads is to share information, stimulating the imagination of our readers so that together FHWA and all of its partners can discover clever and effective ways to continuously improve surface transportation in the United States.

Bob Bryant