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

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

May 2010
Reno,Nevada,United States

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County, Nevada has been using transit ITS to improve its operations since 2003. The agency has learned many lessons that have helped it more effectively operate its system and maximize the benefit of the ITS. The maintenance and training lessons learned are presented below.

  • Ensure your system's critical components can be maintained locally

    One component of RTC's transit ITS implementation was a new radio system that resolved shortcomings of the previous system and provided more bandwidth for data communications. However, the procured radio system has only one authorized service representative in the Reno-Sparks area. RTC determined that the lone authorized service agent was prohibitively expensive and has selected a national service representative who is not local. While RTC has received acceptable and timely service from the national representative, the agency would prefer to use one that is local. In the case of a critical component of transit ITS such as the radio system, agencies are encouraged to ensure that there is appropriate local support to help maintain and repair the system.
  • Budget for onboard ITS hardware components upgrades

    At the time of completion of the project evaluation (May 2010), Trapeze ITS had sent RTC product end-of-life notices for the original Integrated Vehicle Logic Units (IVLUs) installed in RTC vehicles. RTC has been replacing its IVLUs as it replaces vehicles; however, not all RTC IVLUs will be switched to the new type by the deadline established by the vendor. Therefore, a regular budget to upgrade the onboard ITS equipment is recommended to plan for end-of-life replacements.
  • Provide ongoing training and education to staff in order to maximize the benefits of transit ITS technologies.

    When RTC staff were trained on the use of transit ITS, not all systems were implemented or fully functional. One result has been that RTC staff were trained in the classroom on functions that were not available in the vehicles or at workstations. Other working functions may not be used by an agency at implementation but may be needed later.

    At RTC, the staff did not receive practical training of functions such as "transfer request". Transfer request is a function of the MDT where a vehicle operator may contact another operator of another bus with an alert that a passenger would like to transfer at an upcoming stop. Theoretically, the vehicle operator who receives the transfer request can review its schedule adherence information, along with passenger load, other needs and traffic conditions, and then either acknowledge or decline the request. During interviews with vehicle operators, few were aware of the transfer request function. One driver who was aware of it said he did not use it because other operators ignored it.

    Ongoing training, on a formal or informal basis, can help an agency effectively use its transit ITS. An agency must plan to provide ongoing training and education in order to maximize the benefits of its transit ITS. The training may be occasional classroom sessions. Continuing education may also be encouraging user groups to share what they know among themselves. In both cases, the key is continuing to share knowledge about the transit ITS to prevent the users from only utilizing a small portion of its capabilities.
RTC's experience with maintenance and training offers other agencies considering similar deployments some valuable lessons: hiring a local maintenance support contractor for critical components serves the agency better, and offering continuing training to staff helps agency maximize benefits from its comprehensive transit ITS. 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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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: 2012-00631