This report presents operational best practices and related technology for applying ITS to rural transit. The data is based on case studies/interviews conducted at five transit agencies:
- The Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS) in Austin, TX
- St. Johns County, Marion County, and Putnam County, FL [part of the statewide ITS demonstration project being conducted by the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged (CTD)]
- The Public Transportation Programs Bureau (PTPB), a division of the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department
- Ottumwa Transit Authority (OTA) in Ottumwa, IA
- River Valley Transit in Williamsport, PA
The report presents information on each of the five case studies and includes cost and funding information.
Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS)
The Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS) serves nine predominately rural counties in the Austin, Texas area. On average, 1,200 one-way daily trips are made by the fleet of 75 vehicles. Approximately 75% of these trips are for demand responsive paratransit. The CARTS rural ITS transit project uses a 900 MHz two-way radio system and demand responsive transportation scheduling software to provide improved customer service for its riders. Airtime is leased through the Lower Colorado River Authority’s (LCRA’s) state-of-the-art radio system. The demand responsive software was implemented prior to the radio system and was upgraded from a DOS to Windows operating environment. The CARTS radio system became fully operational in 2000. An automatic vehicle location (AVL)/mobile data terminal (MDT) system was scheduled for installation in 2002. THE AVL/MDT system was planned to be phased in, with ten units purchased the first phase and the remaining units to cover the entire fleet by the second phase.
The 900 MHz radios were purchased at a cost of approximately $1,600 each. CARTS pays an airtime fee of $25 per month for each radio unit per vehicle; the fee increases to $35 per month once the MDTs are installed. The initial demand responsive software cost $60,000 in 1994. The upgrade to Windows cost approximately $50,000. An additional $50,000 was incurred to upgrade the system to include the MDTs. Software support costs are approximately $10,000 per year. The MDT system, including all software, use of LCRA’s tower, and the first ten units, cost $160,000. Ongoing support for the MDT system is approximately $17,000 per year.
Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged (CTD)
The Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged (CTD) initiated a statewide, phased ITS rural transit demonstration project geared at increasing productivity of paratransit services, increasing operating efficiencies, coordinating inter-/intra-county trips, and addressing high cost of long-distance and out-of-county trips. Specific project costs were not presented in the report. Only project participants and funding were identified.
Public Transportation Programs Bureau (PTPB)
The Client Referral, Ridership, and Financial Tracking (CRRAFT) system is a web-based system that provides coordination between funding agencies and their subgrantees. CRRAFT is an application developed across multiple agencies, including: the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department’s Public Transportation Programs Bureau (PTPB), the New Mexico Human Services Department, the New Mexico Department of Labor, and rural transit service providers. The Alliance for Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) at the University of New Mexico developed the system.
CRRAFT consists of three parts. Part 1 involved software development which was done in-house by ATRI because many of the commercially available packages reviewed as potential candidates required a yearly maintenance fee. The total cost of software development as of August 2002 was $155,000: system architecture - $15,000; Beta development - $40,000; Beta testing - $10,000; software enhancements, user manual development & training - $50,000; and Beta testing of the new software release, manual development and training - $40,000. An additional $300,000 was provided over two years to enhance the software and user manual, improve training, develop a report of the participant’s evaluation of training and manual, develop a best practices report, and share information about CRRAFT at rural transit conferences and exhibits. Part 2 involved making the Internet connections between the CRRAFT server and the 26 rural agencies. Once the system is fully implemented, approximately 150 vehicles will be tracked and 3,000 to 5,000 clients will be included in the system. Cost associated with the Internet connectivity was not provided in the report. Part 3 involves the procurement of a multipurpose electronic fare card system and onboard card readers that will be integrated with CRRAFT. The state’s current electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card will be used to issue transportation privileges to human services clients. The cost of the electronic card fare system is approximately $550,000 which includes magnetic and swipe cards for drivers and clients, 200 onboard readers (50 held in inventory), and interface software for the CRRAFT.
Ottumwa Transit Authority
The Ottumwa Transit Authority (OTA) is a department of the City of Ottumwa, Iowa. The agency provides bus service to Ottumwa, Iowa and the surrounding 10-county area which covers 5,000 square miles. The heart of the rural transit ITS project is a two-way radio system which offers improved voice communication and increased bandwidth for the AVL/MDT system. ADEPT (Adaptive Decision Engine for Passenger Transportation), selected for the scheduling and dispatching functionality, will be integrated with the AVL/MDT system. OTA operates 51 vehicles: nine fixed route; two ADA paratransit, and 40 demand responsive paratransit and regional rural services throughout the 10-county area. Maintenance for the 11 local vehicles is provided at the central operating facility. The 40 demand responsive vehicles are based at the drivers’ homes in the outlying areas far from the facility. Minor maintenance is performed by subcontractors. Vehicle condition is transmitted to the central dispatch facility as part of the log-on/pretrip procedure. Major maintenance and servicing of remote vehicles is scheduled at the facility when conditions are warranted.
Full installation of the AVL/MDT system was completed in March 2000. Installation of the scheduling and dispatching system occurred in March 2001. The total project cost was $628,000, but at the time the report was written some items were not yet fully installed and paid for. Hence, these costs were omitted from the overall project cost. Project costs are provided in the table below.
|Onboard equipment (AVL/MDT, emergency button)||
|AVL tracking and display workstation||
|Data communication link||
|MDT/AVL system integration||
|Training in ADEPT software||
|Radios, fixed facility equipment, base station||
River Valley Transit
The River Valley Transit, operated by the Williamsport Bureau of Transport, a city department, provides fixed route and demand responsive services in the greater Williamsport, Pennsylvania area. The rural transit ITS system, Traveler Information System (TIS), provides real-time customer information on routes operating out of a new intermodal facility. Approximately 94% of River Valley Transit trips are routed through the transit center. TIS informs riders audibly and visually as to which of 10 bays buses will arrive at and depart from; provides a 20-second notification before buses depart the center; notifies drivers when they have pulled into the wrong bay; and allows the agency to create reports for operational and planning purposes. The agency operates 28 vehicles. Data received from the onboard MDTs is used to inform riders in the transit center. The same information is displayed on signs inside and outside the bus. The total project cost of $200,000 included the cost of the center variable message signs, in-vehicle equipment, computers/workstations, servers, software, installation, integration, and warranty. Originally, the system had a one-year warranty that began as soon as acceptance testing was completed. The goal was for River Valley Transit staff to provide long-term maintenance. The system developer provided one-day of maintenance training and system documentation/manuals. However, the report indicates that the system developer now provides maintenance support on an annual basis. This support contract includes extended system support for one year and a one-year hardware warranty at a cost of $7,500. System support includes on-site and phone/remote diagnostic system support. The hardware warranty covers all components provided by the developer and includes on-site repair of items the agency is not responsible for maintaining (e.g., server, signs).
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CRRAFT: $1,005,000. Ottumwa Transit Authority: $570,000. River Valley Transit: $200,000.