Recognize the value of other agencies' experiences when planning an ITS project.

TriMet's experience with the deployment of Transit Tracker in Portland Oregon.

Portland,Oregon,United States

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

Many agencies can benefit from the experiences of other agencies when planning and designing an ITS project. There are usually many issues that should be addressed and resolved in the early stages of a project. Identifying other agencies with similar projects and discussing items that worked well and what they would or would not do again, can provide great benefits to an agency looking to deploy a project. The benefit of this approach is a more efficient system that meets expectations and is less costly.

The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) provides the following comments from their experience in deploying the Transit Tracker project.
  • Start with a small, prototype system. Starting with a small prototype and evaluating it prior to deploying a larger, expanded system provides the opportunity to determine problems early in the process and fix the problems before deploying the full system. It is virtually impossible to anticipate every issue that may occur when deploying an ITS system. Working with a smaller system allows the agency to effectively debug the system before expanding. As an example, TriMet put LED electronic display signs in several different environments during Phase 1. This allowed them to determine were the signs would perform the best, whether at bus shelters or rail platforms. If the signs performed better in one place over another, they would address the issue and act accordingly. Resolving this issue on a small system is much more cost effective than having to address it on the full expanded system. By the time they deployed the expanded system, they were doing it based on experience, minimizing project costs, and producing a better system overall.
  • Perform accuracy testing on prototype before deploying a larger system. TriMet felt that performing accuracy testing on a small prototype before deploying a larger system was extremely beneficial. This method assisted in identifying issues and fixing them before full project deployment. For example, TriMet was developing the Transit Tracker system over the existing AVL bus dispatch system that had already been in operation. When adding the traveler information system over the existing dispatch system they found that there were issues affecting the accuracy of the signs that needed to be corrected. One good example of this is a sign that is affected by a layover. A layover is when a driver takes a break. If he is late coming in on his layover, that doesn’t necessarily mean he will be late leaving the layover. He will most likely shorten his break and leave on time. The system needs to be able to recognize this issue, assume that the driver will leave on time, and display the appropriate information on the sign. Identifying and fixing problems early on allowed the production of a more effective system and minimized costs.
  • Look at similar systems already in operation in other cities. TriMet felt that looking at similar systems already in operation in other cities, was very important. TriMet had come up with the idea of the Transit Tracker project by seeing a similar system in London. While visiting Gothenburg, Sweden, some TriMet staff members saw software running on a similar system and had some discussion with the operators. Staff members also saw other systems in place in other parts of Europe such as South Hampton, England and Paris, France. The United States did not have as many of these types of systems as Europe, but TriMet did contact New York about their traveler information system. Looking at and discussing lessons learned from other similar systems helped TriMet to develop ideas for their system as well as avoid some similar mistakes that occurred in past projects.

Most agencies consider an ITS project successful if it meets the requirements of the agency, the needs of the customer, and is deployed within the budget and schedule constraints. Agencies may be able to meet these expectations if they recognize the value of other agencies' experiences when planning a project. TriMet's Transit Tracker project was very successful because they consulted with other agencies with similar systems and started with a prototype before expanding their system. They were able to deploy a more efficient system that produced a high level of customer satisfaction.

Lesson Comments

No comments posted to date

Comment on this Lesson

To comment on this lesson, fill in the information below and click on submit. An asterisk (*) indicates a required field. Your name and email address, if provided, will not be posted, but are to contact you, if needed to clarify your comments.


OR0206 – Transit Tracker (Regional Intermodal Transit Traveler Information and Security System) Lessons Learned Report

Author: David Evans and Associates, Inc

Published By: ODOT and Tri-Met

Source Date: 4/1/2004

URL: http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/ITS/PDFs/ITSDocuments/ OR0206TransitTrackerSelfEvaluation.pdf

Other Lessons From this Source

Lesson Contacts

Lesson Contact(s):

Orlena Chiu
David Evans & Associates

Agency Contact(s):

David Crout
(503) 962-5613

Lesson Analyst:

Cheryl Lowrance


Average User Rating

0 ( ratings)

Rate this Lesson

(click stars to rate)

Lesson ID: 2005-00130