The source document is a report designed to act as a planning tool for implementing Transit ITS in rural systems. It includes four sections: a guidebook for planning rural transit ITS applications, best practices in rural transit ITS, transit ITS case studies and transit ITS resources. This review only covers the lessons highlighted in the guidebook section. The purpose of the guidebook is to assist transit systems, especially the managers, in identifying and addressing present and future needs using ITS technologies. Among the lessons learned is the importance of using a three level approach when deploying ITS, identifying and learning about the available ITS technologies, identifying financial resources and the need to develop a database.
It is important to recognize that not all of the applications presently available will be applicable to all transit systems. The following techniques can be used to learn about Transit ITS: read literature, attend conferences, visit other transit systems, develop a relationship with local educational institutions, educate yourself about ITS through training, know your stakeholders and look at the possibilities, work with and learn from the State and County governments, and apply for grants.
- Become knowledgeable about ITS technologies. The transit manager needs to have rational and reasonable expectations of what affordable computer-based technology can do for his/her organization. The transit manager should also understand the function of each technology that is available for transit systems. Visiting other transit systems with Transit ITS applications in operation can be highly enlightening for this purpose. Each Transit ITS technology can be applied to meet one or more needs of a transit system. Some suppliers have ready-made, off-the-shelf (OTS) software. The system manager should know the rough cost of purchasing, installing, activating, maintaining, and upgrading new software or hardware. In order for the new software to operate properly and produce benefits, the transit system manager must be aware of the changes required in the entire system. These changes will encompass business processes, staff skills and training, job requirements, computers and hardware, and all applicable costs, including maintenance contracts. The system manager should know the expected benefits as well.
- Utilize the skills of others. Some rural organizations are housed in an agency that performs other functions. The closely allied organizations can be the source of the needed capabilities and skills. The next source of help is another rural transit agency, an urban transit organization or a state agency with transportation related mission.
This lesson describes the importance of Identifying and becoming familiar with available ITS technologies to be able to assess which ones are suitable and affordable for the organization. Managers, including transit managers and system managers need to be knowledgeable of what new technologies can do for the organization and the associated costs of implementation; this new knowledge may lead to increased agency productivity and efficiency.