Freight Advanced Traveler Information Systems (FRATIS)

U.S. DOT Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) – Demonstration Project in Los Angeles and Gateway Cities

Freight Advanced Traveler Information Systems (FRATIS)


Test the FRATIS in the Los Angeles/Gateway Cities region in Southern California for up to a year to determine its effectiveness in: improving intermodal truck utilization; improving and automating the process in which containers are transferred between marine terminals and drayage companies; and from both of these objectives, achieve improvements in regional freight mobility and air quality.

Our Approach

The FRATIS Demonstration Project is a private and public collaborative effort funded by U.S. DOT-RITA. Its development is centered on the U.S. DOT’s Dynamic Mobility Application bundles that the U.S. DOT initially developed, including Freight Dynamic Route Guidance, Freight Real-Time Traveler Information with Performance Measures, and Intermodal Drayage Operations Optimization. Cambridge Systematics helped to refine the Dynamic Mobility bundles and developed the Concept of Operations which provided the technical foundation for the FRATIS applications. Based on this, and also on adapting FRATIS to the user needs in the LA/Gateway region, the FRATIS LA/Gateway project is testing the following three applications, which are further illustrated in the figure above.

  • Drayage-Marine Terminal Operator (MTO) Information Exchange. Two-way messaging between the marine terminal and the drayage firm with estimated time of arrival (ETA) for dray approaches and marine terminal operator (MTO)-dispatcher messaging and alerts – this will allow for substantially improved terminal and truck management, and if used on a large scale in the future, it could significantly reduce peak truck congestion at the port terminals across the days/week through “dynamic appointments” created by automated “hand-shakes” of container availability/truck dispatching information between dray firms and MTOs.
  • Freight Traveler Information. Dispatcher dashboard with order entry module, real time terminal queue info, driver messaging, and traffic; and dynamic routing for trucks through in-cab navigation devices; also incorporating detailed marine terminal wide micro-queue measurement through anonymous WiFi/Bluetooth detection readers.
  • Drayage Optimization. Daily optimized schedules per driver based on average stop times, predicted travel times, expected terminal wait times, and other constraints – this software system provides Port Logistics Group the planning tool necessary to achieve improvement in truck utilization of potentially up to 15 percent per day, which translates directly into public sector benefits of reduced truck miles and improved air quality.

The FRATIS test includes two primary private-sector participants – Port Logistics Group (a Harbor Trucking Association drayage fleet) and Yusen Terminals, Inc. (a marine terminal operator). Two key public-sector agencies are also supporting the test – the Los Angeles Metropolitan County Transportation Authority (Metro) and the Gateway Cities Council of Governments. Cambridge Systematics is leading the development and implementation team that is deploying the FRATIS; team members include system developer Productivity Apex, and stakeholder engagement lead Susan DeSantis.

The regional public-private joint goal behind forming this partnership is to reduce truck traffic congestion during peak hours – this is going to be a requirement for the ports to be able to handle the future truck trips generated by expected superships of 15,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEU) or greater. The FRATIS applications defined above are designed to work together synergistically to improve terminal visit pre-trip planning and dynamic routing around congestion, to arrive at the gate at less congested times, and to promote reductions in missed container trips (i.e., “bobtail” reductions) at the terminals – these all support reductions in truck travel times, and reductions in truck trips. These truck utilization improvements translate directly into regional mobility and air quality improvements.

Next Steps

In February 2014, the Cambridge Systematics team completed development of the FRATIS applications using an iterative agile software development approach. System operational testing then began in March, and is expected to continue through January 2015. The marine terminal communications element went live in June. As operational testing continues, the Team is continually improving and enhancing the system. Early FRATIS performance evaluation results suggest that the anticipated improvements of truck utilization are being achieved.