Design an ITS procurement process carefully to ensure the best outcome for vendor selection and performance.
Five rural transit agencies' experiences in applying ITS to rural transit.
Statewide,New Mexico,United States; Austin,Texas,United States; St. John's County,Florida,United States; Marion County,Florida,United States; Putnam County,Florida,United States; Ottumwa,Iowa,United States; Williamsport,Pennsylvania,United States
- Consider performance-based contracts, including incentives and penalties, during the procurement process. One way of avoiding problems later in the ITS deployment is to develop performance-based contracts with vendors. An example might be building in project milestones, with payment to vendors dependent on reaching these milestones. In this sense vendors have an incentive to do a good job and meet the project schedule.
- The Ottumwa Transit Authority, (OTA) which provides bus service to Ottumwa, Iowa and the surrounding ten county area, had problems during the implementation stage of their ITS deployment, primarily stemming from difficulties with their contractors. The agency felt they should have written more performance-based contracts with their vendors in order to avoid the types of problems they encountered.
- If the deployment involves various operators/agencies, think about their individual needs. This may be particularly important when using a commercial off-the-shelf product for a number of different operators (as in a statewide implementation).
- In Florida the rural transit providers called Community Transportation Coordinators (CTC) had different needs and planned to use the demand response software, provided by the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged (CTD), to different degrees. Some CTCs had high percentages of standing order trips, while others did not. Therefore, the CTD had to ensure that the software it selected met all of the participants' needs.
- Check the vendor's experience with similar deployments. Make sure to check the vendor's track record to ensure they have the necessary skills to deal with the system and issues at hand. If a vendor does not understand the system, they may not be able to provide the support needed. Therefore, it is important to check vendors' references, particularly at agencies that have similar characteristics. Agencies may want to visit sites where the vendor has installed similar systems.
- Establish a good working relationship with vendors. Management needs to understand enough about the technology to ask the right questions. Outside assistance can be helpful in this regard, but agencies should then consider retaining the assistance through the entire planning, procurement, installation, and testing process.
- Use functional, or a hybrid of functional and technical, specifications, to obtain the appropriate systems within a given budget. Functional specifications can give the vendor a concept of what the agency wants, while at the same time the vendor is challenged to design a workable solution that may differ slightly from the agency’s requirements.
- By not giving narrowly defined system specifications in the request for proposals River Valley Transit in Williamsport, PA encouraged vendors to be creative. River Valley Transit staff were able to enter into a creative design session with the vendor that resulted in an appropriate solution.
Author: Joana Conklin, Carol Schweiger, Buck Marks, Yehuda Gross, William Wiggins, Karen Timpone
Published By: Federal Highway Administration, U.S. DOT
Source Date: March 2003
EDL Number: 13784
Other Reference Number: Report No.FHWA-OP-03-77URL: http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/jpodocs/repts_te/13784.html
Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
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