Designate the agency project manager as the single point of contact with the contractor and evaluate track record of contractor’s project management.
Washoe County’s experience implementing a comprehensive transit ITS program.
Made Public Date


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

Agencies will benefit from designating the project manager as the single point of contact with contractor. Agencies must also evaluate contractor’s track record in successful project management. In this regard, the lessons learned from the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County’s transit ITS planning and deployment experience offers the following guidance:

Designate the agency project manager as the single point of contact for the contractor.

  • Once an agency selects a Project Manager for the transit ITS, that Project Manager should serve as a single point of contact for the contractor, not only for procurement but also implementation and operation. This is not to say that the Project Manager is the only person within the agency that the contractor should speak to. Rather, it means that the Project Manager should be aware of, and authorize communication between the contractor and other individuals within the agency.

    The reason for making the Project Manager the single point of contact is to insure consistency and that all contractor activities are coordinated. Because of the complexity of a transit ITS implementation, the contractor may need to work with several departments of an agency. Without a single point of contact, decisions may get made between the contractor and departments that are not consistent or coordinated with the other departments.

    The Project Manager must be kept aware of each action of the contractor and the agency departments, and how the action may impact the overall implementation, budget and schedule. The Project Manager can then work with the contractor to make decisions on changes or scheduling in order to make them beneficial to the agency as a whole.

    Because the Project Manager will be a single point of contact, the person must be knowledgeable about all systems and operations at the agency, and must be able to communicate with both the contractor and the many functional staff groups within the agency.

Prepare for the possibility of transition of project manager responsibilities.


  • Although RTC has had the same project manager committed to this project since initial planning, the agency prepared for the possibility of a transition. The Project Manager should document interaction with the contractor throughout the project. While the ideal is for the agency to have a single project manager from beginning to end, it must be prepared for the possibility of a change. Documenting all interaction and decisions will provide a new project manager a background to help understand the current project status and what is expected from each involved party. The documentation will make a project management transition less disruptive. It also provides a “paper trail” in case of any disputes.

Evaluate contractor’s project management track record and have a protocol in place to avoid implementation disruption due to contractor's management turnovers.



  • During the procurement and implementation process, RTC’s contractor changed its project manager four times and project engineer six times. RTC believes that these changes caused delays in the project because each new contractor staff person had to become familiar with RTC staff and the status of the ITS implementation.

    While RTC placed requirements in its RFP to specify that contractor project management changes must be approved by RTC, the contractor has often sought approval after the fact. RTC recommends that agencies carefully review and develop their contractor staffing requirements to minimize disruptions resulting from contractor staffing changes.

    During the selection process, RTC would recommend placing emphasis on each bidder’s recent project history and the project management within each. Consider giving added weight in past experience to those bidders who have had consistent and satisfactory project management and engineering on recent projects.

For successful deployment of a major ITS implementation initiative, designating the agency’s project manager as a single point of contact with the contractor is important, so is conducting an evaluation of the contractor’s project management track record, in order to avoid implementation disruption. 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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