Develop requirements using widely accepted standards, preferably the open source compatible ones if available, and review those requirements immediately before requesting proposals from contractors.

Washoe County’s experience implementing a comprehensive transit ITS program.

May 2010
Reno; Nevada; United States

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

Agencies must endeavor to develop system requirements with input from various functional staff groups, who will use the system. The relevant lessons learned from the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County’s transit ITS deployment experience in developing system requirements are presented below.
  • Review system requirements immediately before requesting contract proposals. Developing system requirements can be a time-consuming process. There are many agency staff user groups who will provide input, including technical and non-technical staff, before the requirements are released to potential contractors. Reviews can delay the release of Request for Proposals (RFP), and during that delay the underlying transit ITS technologies may change. Therefore, it is imperative that requirements are reviewed and updated immediately before an RFP is released.
  • Use widely accepted standards, preferably the open source compatible ones if available, in developing system requirements. At RTC, the procurement process from RFP to contracting was delayed due to a series of factors, which resulted in the agency getting some functionality that had become unnecessary or not state-of-the-art. A specific example of this was the requirement for a wireless data network to communicate between vehicles in the maintenance yard and the ITS servers. The wireless network supplied by the contractor was PROXIM, a proprietary wireless protocol. While it was suitable at the time the requirements were written, an open standard (IEEE 802.11b/g/n) has emerged. The rapid success of the open standard resulted in the PROXIM system quickly becoming obsolete. RTC had difficulty getting technical support for or buying replacement of PROXIM hardware.

    RTC eventually converted its network to the open standard at its own expense. Had RTC been able to make last-minute changes and perform a review of its requirements immediately before release to potential contractors, the additional expense of the conversion may have been avoided.
  • Clearly delineate where contractors shall be using open standards. Open and widely-accepted standards should be used wherever possible in the development of requirements. The developer of the requirements should be knowledgeable of the National ITS Architecture and any other network or communications standards that will be affected by transit ITS. The requirements should clearly identify where contractors will be expected to use open standards.
Agencies should develop requirements using widely accepted standards, preferably the open source compatible ones if available, and update those requirements immediately before requesting proposals from contractors. 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.

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Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County Intelligent Transportation System Implementation Evaluation Study

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-26-7005-2010.1

URL: http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/RTC_ITS_Eval_Study_section508.pdf

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Benefits From This Source

Automatic vehicle location (AVL) on Reno buses leads to nearly four percent increase in on-time performance for paratransit services and more comprehensive schedule adherence data to create more accurate schedules.

Estimated reduction of 9.37 million personal vehicle miles traveled and 4,252 metric tons of CO2 from increased transit ridership in Reno, Nevada.

Forty-five percent reduction in complaints by paratransit riders, 50 percent less missed trips due to mechanical problems, and a new trip planning tool for fixed-route riders introduced as part of ITS deployment in Reno.

Overtime hours for drivers reduced and no staff increase necessary to handle over 10 percent increase in transit ridership over six years.

Lessons From This Source

Be prepared to use local resources to service mission critical system components, and provide ongoing O&M training to maximize system benefits.

Consider procuring computer and network hardware independently when feasible and procure right-sized systems.

Define clear goals for a comprehensive transit ITS deployment program and track the achievement of those goals to evaluate program's success.

Designate the agency project manager as the single point of contact with the contractor and evaluate track record of contractor’s project management.

Develop requirements using widely accepted standards, preferably the open source compatible ones if available, and review those requirements immediately before requesting proposals from contractors.

Do not expect to see significant operations staff reductions due to implementing ITS technologies, but do expect service improvements using the same staff levels.

Encourage staff to find creative and efficient uses of ITS to improve operations through better communications.

Ensure that the management responsible for transit ITS planning is knowledgeable on agency’s labor contracts and how labor contracts affect effective utilization of ITS tools.

Expect agency's information technology (IT) operations and maintenance budget to increase in order to train qualified IT staff to maintain a new suite of hardware and software.

For a comprehensive transit ITS deployment program, select an agency project manager with skills in planning, information technology, and communications.

Identify champions early to facilitate communications, project management, and staff ownership for successful deployment of a comprehensive transit ITS program.

In deploying a comprehensive transit ITS program, develop strategies and requirements for planning, procurement, implementation, and ongoing operations.

Prepare agency staff for implementation of new ITS technologies and involve maintenance and information technology (IT) staff in the installation process.

To avoid project implementation delays and unanticipated costs, perform a thorough review of the existing technologies during the planning phase of a comprehensive transit ITS deployment.

To avoid surprises after implementation of a comprehensive transit ITS program, perform a detailed analysis of costs for operations and maintenance during the project planning phase.

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.

Weigh in the advantages of procuring new information technology (IT) assets, and maintain an asset management system that details new IT inventory.

Lesson ID: 2011-00608