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.

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

May 2010
Reno; Nevada; United States

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Lesson Learned

A comprehensive transit ITS deployment must include a detailed analysis of operations and maintenance costs. Lessons learned from the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County’s transit ITS planning and deployment experience offers the following guidance:

Plan for operations and maintenance costs, as well as for contingencies.
    As important the capital costs to install the transit ITS technologies are as the costs for ongoing operations and maintenance (O & M). While an agency’s request for proposal (RFP) will likely ask the contractor for estimated operation and maintenance costs, there are costs besides the contractor’s to consider.

    At RTC, operations and maintenance costs directly related to the transit ITS implementation, but not covered by the contractor, include digital maps, hardware the agency procured, space and cooling for that hardware, and additional applications required to interface with the transit ITS.

    RTC provides its own digital map backgrounds for the AVL workstations. Because Washoe County’s population has grown so rapidly, new streets and subdivisions have developed since the transit ITS implementation. Updating the digital maps costs approximately $8,000 annually. This cost was not planned for and RTC has not updated its base maps for approximately four years. Both RTC RIDE and RTC ACCESS staff note that the maps are not current with the road network on which RTC operates.

    As mentioned previously, RTC has incurred additional cost in space and cooling for transit ITS servers and communications hardware. While not significant, the cost was not anticipated and planned for as part of the transit ITS operations and maintenance.

    RTC had to procure two additional software applications that were not anticipated when it procured its transit ITS. In order to fully utilize its transit ITS, RTC purchased an upgraded version of Trapeze™ paratransit scheduling software, and shared the cost of the HASTUS™ fixed-route scheduling application with the contractor. Both of these systems require ongoing costs for training, support and licensing that are in addition to the direct costs of the transit ITS.

To avoid surprises after implementation, perform a detailed analysis of costs during the project planning phase.
    During the planning process, RTC conducted a cost/benefit analysis. However, after implementation, the RTC information technology (IT) staff realized that agencies would benefit from doing a detailed analysis of costs. In fact, the IT department stated that the ongoing operations and maintenance costs of the ITS system still surprises the agency because many costs were not identified before procurement and implementation. RTC IT staff stated that they will not enter into a project of this magnitude in the future without a detailed cost/benefit analysis.

Agencies planning for comprehensive ITS deployment must conduct detailed analysis of costs as reflected in the lessons learned from RTC’s experience. 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: 2011-00611