Develop long-term vision and goals for agency’s ITS program and ensure timely completion of long lead-time activities to support future ITS initiatives.

Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority's experience in deploying transit ITS

November 2009
Chattanooga,Tennessee,United States

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

The Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority's (CARTA) SmartBus ITS program offers valuable guidance on the utility of crafting vision and goals and developing a systems overview or operations plan while implementing ITS at a mid-size transit agency. Lessons learned from CARTA’s practice of developing vision, goals, and systems overview/operations plan are identified below.
  • Develop and update agency’s ITS concept of operations plan annually to ensure having a current roadmap for agency’s ITS program. In 2004, CARTA prepared a System Overview Update report, which is akin to a Concept of Operations plan, to document a long-term vision of how agency wanted to use ITS. The report included the following key items:
    • A Chattanooga Regional Transit ITS Overview Diagram that depicted the current and planned ITS technologies [1]
    • Vision and goals
    • Descriptions of deployed ITS technologies
    • Descriptions of ongoing and planned procurements
    • An implementation schedule
    CARTA updated its concept of operations plan annually to reflect changes that occurred in the previous year as well as plans for the upcoming years, such that this document always provided CARTA with a roadmap of where the agency was and where it was headed with its ITS program. This activity provided CARTA with some notable benefits including an understanding of its vision and goals as well as actions necessary to implement the ITS program.
  • Formulate and utilize agency’s long term vision for ITS program to take advantage of relevant funding opportunities. Having a documented long-term vision helped CARTA take advantage of short-term opportunities that arose. For example, CARTA was approached by the University of Tennessee (UT) at Chattanooga with funding to support the installation of arrival time signs at several bus stops on CARTA routes in the UT Chattanooga campus. At the time that this opportunity became available, CARTA did not have all of the systems in place to support real-time bus arrival time information. Realizing that real-time arrival time information was consistent with its long-term plans, CARTA re-organized its planned deployment activities to fast-track those items needed to support arrival time signs.
  • Identify and understand agency’s goals for ITS program and sequence the long lead-time activities early enough for their timely completion to support the long-term goals. First, understanding the long-term goals helped CARTA ensure that all the necessary preliminary activities were completed to support the long-term goals. This was particularly important with regard to long lead-time items with a long lifetime, such as bus purchases. For example, in 2006 CARTA added requirements that bus purchases include multiplex systems to better support the agency's plans for automated vehicle monitoring (AVM). A bus with multiplex system allows the AVM to perform enhanced monitoring of more devices than a bus without a multiplex system can do. The AVM system on older CARTA buses monitors fewer devices than the system on those purchased after 2006.
Developing a systems overview (or concept of operations) plan early on is a useful exercise to achieve success in implementing an ITS program that will increase efficiency and mobility in transit operations. As narrated above, vision, long-term goals, synergistic project sequencing are some of the key elements that can benefit vastly from the preparation of an overview plan.

[1] For a comprehensive systems overview diagram, see Figure 2 of the source document

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A Case Study on Applying the Systems Engineering Approach: Best Practices and Lessons Learned from the Chattanooga SmartBus Project

Author: Haas, R.; E. Perry; J. Rephlo

Published By: U.S. DOT Federal Highway Administration

Source Date: November 2009

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Lesson ID: 2010-00554