A rural ITS demonstration in Poinciana, Florida.
Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority d.b.a. LYNX & Polk County Transit Services (PCTS) Rural Intelligent Transportation System Demonstration Project
The Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX) and the Polk County Transit System (PCTS) serve the rural community of Poinciana, Florida with fixed-route and paratransit services. They were awarded a grant from the FTA for an operational test in 2002 with the purpose of evaluating the benefits of applying ITS technologies to reduce costs and duplicate trips in the area. The ITS technologies implemented were mobile data terminals (MDT) and automatic vehicle location (AVL) devices on 10 paratransit vehicles for each agency. Additionally, the use of common automated scheduling, reservation and dispatch software by both agencies allowed for interoperability between the two systems.
The procurement of compatible technology and equipment is key when planning and implementing coordinated services between urban and rural transit systems. Experience during the LYNX and PCTS demonstration project offer the following guidance and lessons learned.
Ensure consistency in purchases and delivery of products or services by allowing one agency to be in charge of the procurement process. Assets purchased through the single procurement process can be transferred in accordance with the FTA policies as appropriate.
Specify in the procurement solicitation that the AVL supplier use the transit operator's preferred base maps. Accurate and complete base maps are critical. An AVL supplier must demonstrate that an AVL system can accept frequent map updates easily. Products that rely solely on data derived from the U.S. Census Bureau (i.e., TIGER maps) may not be updated frequently enough to convey reliable vehicle location data to dispatchers or provide drivers with accurate turn-by-turn directions in areas with rapid urban growth. In these instances, transit operators must partner with another entity, such as a local emergency services agency, to obtain routinely updated base maps.
Overall, the demonstration project found that increased interoperability between agencies can improve operations. Customer service staff, dispatchers, and drivers interviewed agreed that the project improved paratransit operations and the service was carrying more passengers more efficiently.