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.
A comprehensive transit ITS deployment involves procurement of significant amount of information technology (IT) assets. Lessons learned from the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County’s experience with procuring IT assets offer the following guidance:
- Weigh in the advantages of procuring new hardware and software when feasible. RTC procured new servers and communications hardware as part of the implementation of transit ITS. The alternative would have been to resource or reuse existing equipment. However, preparing the existing hardware for RTC's comprehensive transit ITS would have required additional IT staff time. Also, RTC’s existing hardware was already partially through its lifecycle, so the legacy equipment replaced no longer had full retail value. The primary advantage of new hardware and software is that it allowed RTC to more quickly implement its transit ITS. Because it was new, the hardware was state-of-the-art and met all of the contractor's requirements. The hardware came without any potential issues such as bad components or viruses, and it did not require any reformatting or reconfiguring to prepare it for use in transit ITS.
- Plan for space and temperature management for new IT assets. With all new hardware, IT staff must plan for space and temperature management when implementing a new IT system. Rack spaces can be reduced by utilizing a special switch with integrated monitor and keyboard to manage several servers at a time. New cooling requirements may be necessary with the additional equipment. IT staff may also want to purchase workstations with small form factor casing to minimize the desktop and below-desk space of the system at dispatcher and other key personnel stations.
- Maintain an asset management system that details new IT inventory. When RTC procured its new hardware, it arrived as a single delivery with a single line item in the invoice. This complicated the tracking of the hardware and knowing where to assign each component. The issue of not being aware where each component belongs complicates future work. It is more difficult to track which components are operational and not in use, and which are due for lifecycle replacement. RTC IT staff recommend that an agency request line item descriptions of all hardware, whether they are procured through the transit ITS contractor or a third party. An asset management list is a means to identify each component, how it will be used, when it was procured and put into use, its current disposition and its lifecycle. The asset management list will help in planning the ongoing cost of hardware replacement. It also makes maintenance easier because the location and purpose of each component is known. Finally, an asset management list allows an agency to identify components that are being utilized or underutilized.
Agencies should weigh in the advantages of procuring new ITS assets as well as strive to develop and maintain an IT asset management system early on when implementing a comprehensive transit ITS program. 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.