Lesson

Understand that the contractor’s availability to remain on site after the deployment of a comprehensive transit ITS is important, so is the contractor’s ability to work with the original equipment manufacturer.

Washoe County’s experience implementing a comprehensive transit ITS program.


May 2010
Reno,Utah,United States


Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

Contractor’s availability to remain on site after the deployment of a comprehensive transit ITS is important, so is contractor’s ability to work with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Lessons learned from the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County’s transit ITS planning and deployment experience offers the following guidance:

Require the contractor to remain on-site after installation in order to ensure all systems are stable and robust.
    Ensure that on-site contractor staff be experienced and knowledgeable. Because of the complex nature of a transit ITS implementation, RTC recommends that agencies require the contractor to have staff on-site for a reasonable period of time after installation, depending upon the complexity and size of the implementation. The time the contractor should stay on-site to monitor the system after installation should be long enough to give both the agency and contractor assurance that all systems are stable and robust. The transit agency should require the on-site contractor staff be experienced and knowledgeable about all aspects of the transit ITS.

    While the components of transit ITS may work well in a factory setting, their transition to the real-world environment may require numerous calibrations and adjustments. Most transit agencies have a variety of different vehicles and each may have slightly different characteristics that may not be anticipated during installation. Also, computer servers and communications hardware may integrate differently than expected with an agency’s existing networks. Some data communication issues may not appear until after a system is in use.

    Recognize that on-site contractor staff are essential for quick resolutions while the agency staff are learning the system. While the RTC transit ITS mostly worked well after installation, and the RTC IT and maintenance staff said the installation was well done and correct, small issues still occurred. They included minor issues such as individual head signs that didn’t work correctly and automated passenger counters that were not well calibrated on some vehicles. Issues also included major problems such as a traveler information system that did not work. Many of these issues lingered because contractor staff were not present to address them.

    Once transit ITS is installed, an agency will likely begin using it immediately. It will be relied on to perform many critical functions from the moment it is operational. For that reason, a failure of the system can be catastrophic for the agency, and must be remedied as quickly as possible. On-site contractor staff are essential for quick resolutions while the agency staff are learning the system.
Consider the value of supports an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) can offer for equipping new vehicles.
    During the implementation of the transit ITS, RTC and its contractor installed new ITS equipment aboard RTC’s existing fleet of vehicles. Since the initial implementation in 2002-2003, RTC RIDE has replaced approximately half of its fleet with new vehicles. RTC’s contractor was able to work directly with the vehicle manufacturer to have the in-vehicle ITS hardware installed at the factory.

    New vehicles arrive at RTC complete and do not require a trip by the contractor to install or oversee the installation of hardware. As previously noted, RTC RIDE Maintenance staff have corrected improper installations on a small number of vehicles, but the vast majority of vehicles arrive at RTC correct. The OEM process reduces the burden on RTC RIDE Maintenance staff, reduces costs by not requiring the contractor to be present for installs, and reduces delays in getting new vehicles into service.
RTC’s experience suggests that the agencies shall require the contractor remain on site after installation is necessary until the newly installed systems are in stable and robust operating conditions. Also, the contractor’s ability to work with the OEM for installation of relevant ITS devices before a transit bus is delivered will relieve the agency from many maintenance concerns. RTC has largely achieved the goals of its transit ITS deployment program and benefited significantly in many ways including better schedule adherence, increased ridership, reduced emissions, and increased customer satisfaction.


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Source

Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County Intelligent Transportation System Implementation Evaluation Study

Author: Tina Wu, Matt Weatherford, Ancila Kaiparambil, Linna Zhang

Published By: Federal Transit Administration U.S. Department of Transportation

Source Date: May 2010

Other Reference Number: FTA Report FTA- NV-26-7005-2010.1

URL: http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/RTC_ITS_Eval_Study_section508.pdf

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Benefits From This Source

Automatic vehicle location (AVL) on Reno buses leads to nearly four percent increase in on-time performance for paratransit services and more comprehensive schedule adherence data to create more accurate schedules.

Estimated reduction of 9.37 million personal vehicle miles traveled and 4,252 metric tons of CO2 from increased transit ridership in Reno, Nevada.

Forty-five percent reduction in complaints by paratransit riders, 50 percent less missed trips due to mechanical problems, and a new trip planning tool for fixed-route riders introduced as part of ITS deployment in Reno.

Overtime hours for drivers reduced and no staff increase necessary to handle over 10 percent increase in transit ridership over six years.

Lessons From This Source

Be prepared to use local resources to service mission critical system components, and provide ongoing O&M training to maximize system benefits.

Consider procuring computer and network hardware independently when feasible and procure right-sized systems.

Define clear goals for a comprehensive transit ITS deployment program and track the achievement of those goals to evaluate program's success.

Designate the agency project manager as the single point of contact with the contractor and evaluate track record of contractor’s project management.

Develop requirements using widely accepted standards, preferably the open source compatible ones if available, and review those requirements immediately before requesting proposals from contractors.

Do not expect to see significant operations staff reductions due to implementing ITS technologies, but do expect service improvements using the same staff levels.

Encourage staff to find creative and efficient uses of ITS to improve operations through better communications.

Ensure that the management responsible for transit ITS planning is knowledgeable on agency’s labor contracts and how labor contracts affect effective utilization of ITS tools.

Expect agency's information technology (IT) operations and maintenance budget to increase in order to train qualified IT staff to maintain a new suite of hardware and software.

For a comprehensive transit ITS deployment program, select an agency project manager with skills in planning, information technology, and communications.

Identify champions early to facilitate communications, project management, and staff ownership for successful deployment of a comprehensive transit ITS program.

In deploying a comprehensive transit ITS program, develop strategies and requirements for planning, procurement, implementation, and ongoing operations.

Prepare agency staff for implementation of new ITS technologies and involve maintenance and information technology (IT) staff in the installation process.

To avoid project implementation delays and unanticipated costs, perform a thorough review of the existing technologies during the planning phase of a comprehensive transit ITS deployment.

To avoid surprises after implementation of a comprehensive transit ITS program, perform a detailed analysis of costs for operations and maintenance during the project planning phase.

Understand that the contractor’s availability to remain on site after the deployment of a comprehensive transit ITS is important, so is the contractor’s ability to work with the original equipment manufacturer.

Weigh in the advantages of procuring new information technology (IT) assets, and maintain an asset management system that details new IT inventory.

Lesson ID: 2011-00613