Understand that the contractor’s availability to remain on site after the deployment of a comprehensive transit ITS is important, so is the contractor’s ability to work with the original equipment manufacturer.
Washoe County’s experience implementing a comprehensive transit ITS program.
Require the contractor to remain on-site after installation in order to ensure all systems are stable and robust.
- Ensure that on-site contractor staff be experienced and knowledgeable. Because of the complex nature of a transit ITS implementation, RTC recommends that agencies require the contractor to have staff on-site for a reasonable period of time after installation, depending upon the complexity and size of the implementation. The time the contractor should stay on-site to monitor the system after installation should be long enough to give both the agency and contractor assurance that all systems are stable and robust. The transit agency should require the on-site contractor staff be experienced and knowledgeable about all aspects of the transit ITS.
While the components of transit ITS may work well in a factory setting, their transition to the real-world environment may require numerous calibrations and adjustments. Most transit agencies have a variety of different vehicles and each may have slightly different characteristics that may not be anticipated during installation. Also, computer servers and communications hardware may integrate differently than expected with an agency’s existing networks. Some data communication issues may not appear until after a system is in use.
Recognize that on-site contractor staff are essential for quick resolutions while the agency staff are learning the system. While the RTC transit ITS mostly worked well after installation, and the RTC IT and maintenance staff said the installation was well done and correct, small issues still occurred. They included minor issues such as individual head signs that didn’t work correctly and automated passenger counters that were not well calibrated on some vehicles. Issues also included major problems such as a traveler information system that did not work. Many of these issues lingered because contractor staff were not present to address them.
Once transit ITS is installed, an agency will likely begin using it immediately. It will be relied on to perform many critical functions from the moment it is operational. For that reason, a failure of the system can be catastrophic for the agency, and must be remedied as quickly as possible. On-site contractor staff are essential for quick resolutions while the agency staff are learning the system.
- During the implementation of the transit ITS, RTC and its contractor installed new ITS equipment aboard RTC’s existing fleet of vehicles. Since the initial implementation in 2002-2003, RTC RIDE has replaced approximately half of its fleet with new vehicles. RTC’s contractor was able to work directly with the vehicle manufacturer to have the in-vehicle ITS hardware installed at the factory.
New vehicles arrive at RTC complete and do not require a trip by the contractor to install or oversee the installation of hardware. As previously noted, RTC RIDE Maintenance staff have corrected improper installations on a small number of vehicles, but the vast majority of vehicles arrive at RTC correct. The OEM process reduces the burden on RTC RIDE Maintenance staff, reduces costs by not requiring the contractor to be present for installs, and reduces delays in getting new vehicles into service.
Author: Tina Wu, Matt Weatherford, Ancila Kaiparambil, Linna Zhang
Published By: Federal Transit Administration U.S. Department of Transportation
Source Date: May 2010
Other Reference Number: FTA Report FTA- NV-26-7005-2010.1URL: http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/RTC_ITS_Eval_Study_section508.pdf
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