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.
Agencies shall benefit from conducting a thorough review of its existing ITS technologies during the planning phase. In this regard, the lessons learned from the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County’s transit ITS planning and deployment are presented below.
- Perform a thorough review of agency's existing technologies during the planning phase of a comprehensive transit ITS deployment. During the planning process, a transit agency should conduct a thorough review of its existing hardware, software and networks. If a detailed inventory does not exist, one should be made that documents the capabilities of all systems in terms of processor speeds, radio and wireless communications capabilities, network configurations, storage capacities and backup processes. Performing this review will allow your agency to be better able to identify systems that may need to be replaced due to lack of technical support or outdated technologies. It will also help identify the limitations of your system that may impact how ITS is implemented, or what will be needed to fully utilize ITS.
- Avoid delays in deployment and unanticipated cost escalation by having a full knowledge of hardware and software needs during technology review. . A detailed technology review is valuable information to provide to potential ITS contractors. They will be able to identify how their systems can work with your existing technologies, and help you identify changes necessary that will be above and beyond the cost of their systems. RTC procured all-new hardware with its transit ITS implementation, and that simplified the process by eliminating interfacing with legacy equipment. Some software used by the agency was not as compatible with the proposed ITS as expected. In order to fully utilize the transit ITS, RTC had to procure new paratransit scheduling and fixed-route scheduling systems. The need for these applications was not determined until transit ITS implementation had begun, and resulted in delays and additional unanticipated costs to RTC.
To avoid unanticipated delays and cost escalation, an agency should perform a thorough review of its existing technologies during the ITS planning phase. 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.