Washoe County’s experience implementing a comprehensive transit ITS program.
Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County Intelligent Transportation System Implementation Evaluation Study
In 1999, the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County, Nevada entered into a cooperative agreement with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to procure and implement Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) for its fixed-route and paratransit services. RTC's transit ITS deployment initiative was a multi-year funding project and the total cost agreed to was $4,750,000, with a funding split of 80 percent federal and 20 local. RTC began the procurement process in 2000, the implementation in 2002, and completed implementation and acceptance testing in 2007. RTC staff and its passengers have become accustomed to the system and its functionality. Key ITS technologies deployed were:
- Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) on fixed-route, paratransit and supervisor vehicles
- Computer-Aided Dispatch
- Paratransit Scheduling and Reservation Software
- Fixed-Route Scheduling Software
- Automated Passenger Counters
- Real-Time Traveler Information for Fixed-Route Vehicles
- Remote Engine Diagnostics
- Automated Stop Announcements
- Transit Signal Priority
- Mobile Supervisor
An evaluation report, entitled "Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County Transit Intelligent Transportation System Implementation Evaluation" was published in March 2010. The project evaluators compared baseline pre-transit ITS data and post-transit ITS data, measured the quantitative and qualitative impacts on operational efficiency, observed how RTC staff performed their responsibilities, and identified a set of lessons learned.
During the planning, procurement, implementation, and operations phases of its transit ITS program, the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County, Nevada gathered considerable knowledge and lessons learned, a summary of which is presented below.
- Select an agency project manager with the right skill set.
- Identify champions to represent each user group in the agency.
- Know the limitations of your agency’s labor contracts.
- Conduct a review of your existing technologies.
- Designate the agency project manager as a single point of contact for the contractor.
- Demand consistent support from the contractor.
- Review your requirements one last time before requesting proposals.
- Independently procure computer and network hardware when feasible.
- Procure the right-sized systems.
- Plan for operations and maintenance costs.
- Require the contractor to remain on-site after installation.
- Prepare agency staff for the implementation process.
- Involve maintenance and information technology (IT) staff in the installation process.
- Seek a contractor who supports an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) process for equipping new vehicles.
- Maintain an asset management list that details new IT inventory.
- Implementation can be simplified by procuring all new hardware and software.
- Do not expect to see staff reductions after ITS technology implementation.
- Have or obtain the ability to customize reports.
- Have an independent dialog with other agencies that use same contractor.
- Encourage creative uses of transit ITS.
- Allow supervisors to use the automatic vehicle location (AVL) system.
- Continue learning and training.
- Ensure your system’s critical components can be maintained locally.
- Reduce overall vehicular emissions from the increased use of transit and, as a result, potentially lesser use of cars.
RTC’s strategic focus on major priorities encompassing planning, procurement, implementation, and ongoing operations led to successful deployment and operations of its comprehensive transit ITS program. Independent project evaluators reported that RTC benefited significantly from implementing the ITS program in many ways, including better schedule adherence, increased ridership, reduced emissions, and increased customer satisfaction.