Intelligent Freight Transportation Systems in the FAST Act
The Freight Shuttle System (FSS) meets the definition of an Intelligent Freight Transportation System (IFTS) as defined in the new Federal Transportation Bill – The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act: ‘‘An innovative or intelligent technological transportation system, infrastructure, or facilities, including electronic roads, driverless trucks, elevated freight transportation facilities, and other intelligent freight transportation systems.”
According to the FAST Act, “an intelligent freight transportation system shall be located—(i) along existing Federal-aid highways; or (ii) in a manner that connects ports-of entry to existing Federal-aid highways; and in proximity to, or within, an existing right-of-way on a Federal-aid highway.” The act further defines the treatment of an IFTS system: “Not withstanding any other provision of law, a freight project carried out under this section shall be treated as if the project were on a Federal-aid highway.”
Since FSSs qualify as IFTSs, Freight Shuttle projects will be regulated under the authority of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and are eligible for federal funding (i.e., federal reimbursement to a state department of transportation [DOT]).
The Freight Shuttle System Public-Private business model is expected to vary depending on the project but will be based on Freight Shuttle (FS) licensing the technology, providing designs for all components to a Freight Shuttle Project Entity that represents a public-private ownership structure for a licensing fee and royalty fees. As with the privately owned business model, FS is expected to provide operations and maintenance services to the Freight Shuttle Project Entity through a subsidiary–Freight Shuttle Operations (FSO)–and may also offer development services to the Freight Shuttle Project Entity through a subsidiary company–Freight Shuttle Project Management (FSPM). State departments of transportation may decide to take advantage of federal-aid highway reimbursement for project expenditures or structure and may decide to structure public-private partnerships that support the state receiving reimbursement on investment from FSS revenues, as well as receiving revenues from FSS air space leases within right-of-ways.