Be prepared to use local resources to service mission critical system components, and provide ongoing O&M training to maximize system benefits.
Washoe County’s experience implementing a comprehensive transit ITS program.
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United States

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
  • DataMart™
  • 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.

Lessons Learned

The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County, Nevada has been using transit ITS to improve its operations since 2003. The agency has learned many lessons that have helped it more effectively operate its system and maximize the benefit of the ITS. The maintenance and training lessons learned are presented below.


  • Ensure your system's critical components can be maintained locally

    One component of RTC's transit ITS implementation was a new radio system that resolved shortcomings of the previous system and provided more bandwidth for data communications. However, the procured radio system has only one authorized service representative in the Reno-Sparks area. RTC determined that the lone authorized service agent was prohibitively expensive and has selected a national service representative who is not local. While RTC has received acceptable and timely service from the national representative, the agency would prefer to use one that is local. In the case of a critical component of transit ITS such as the radio system, agencies are encouraged to ensure that there is appropriate local support to help maintain and repair the system.

  • Budget for onboard ITS hardware components upgrades

    At the time of completion of the project evaluation (May 2010), Trapeze ITS had sent RTC product end-of-life notices for the original Integrated Vehicle Logic Units (IVLUs) installed in RTC vehicles. RTC has been replacing its IVLUs as it replaces vehicles; however, not all RTC IVLUs will be switched to the new type by the deadline established by the vendor. Therefore, a regular budget to upgrade the onboard ITS equipment is recommended to plan for end-of-life replacements.



  • Provide ongoing training and education to staff in order to maximize the benefits of transit ITS technologies.

    When RTC staff were trained on the use of transit ITS, not all systems were implemented or fully functional. One result has been that RTC staff were trained in the classroom on functions that were not available in the vehicles or at workstations. Other working functions may not be used by an agency at implementation but may be needed later.

    At RTC, the staff did not receive practical training of functions such as "transfer request". Transfer request is a function of the MDT where a vehicle operator may contact another operator of another bus with an alert that a passenger would like to transfer at an upcoming stop. Theoretically, the vehicle operator who receives the transfer request can review its schedule adherence information, along with passenger load, other needs and traffic conditions, and then either acknowledge or decline the request. During interviews with vehicle operators, few were aware of the transfer request function. One driver who was aware of it said he did not use it because other operators ignored it.

    Ongoing training, on a formal or informal basis, can help an agency effectively use its transit ITS. An agency must plan to provide ongoing training and education in order to maximize the benefits of its transit ITS. The training may be occasional classroom sessions. Continuing education may also be encouraging user groups to share what they know among themselves. In both cases, the key is continuing to share knowledge about the transit ITS to prevent the users from only utilizing a small portion of its capabilities.

RTC's experience with maintenance and training offers other agencies considering similar deployments some valuable lessons: hiring a local maintenance support contractor for critical components serves the agency better, and offering continuing training to staff helps agency maximize benefits from its comprehensive transit ITS. 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.


Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County Intelligent Transportation System Implementation Evaluation Study

Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County Intelligent Transportation System Implementation Evaluation Study
Publication Sort Date
Tina Wu, Matt Weatherford, Ancila Kaiparambil, Linna Zhang
Federal Transit Administration U.S. Department of Transportation

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