New Mexico's scheduling/billing sofware leads to better customer service, more efficient reporting and billing, and better coordination between transportation providers and funding agencies.

March 2003
Albuquerque,New Mexico,United States; Los Lunas,New Mexico,United States

Summary Information

Sponsored by the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Joint Program Office (JPO) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the objective of the study was to identify operational best practices and related technology for applying ITS to rural transit. The project team found that at the time of the study in 2002, few rural properties had moved from the ITS planning stage to procurement and implementation. The project team gathered information through case studies to produce the Best Practices recommendations. On-site case studies were performed at the following rural transit agencies:
  • The Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS) in Austin, TX;
  • St. Johns County, Marion County, and Putnam County, FL;
  • The Public Transportation Programs Bureau (PTPB), a division of the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department;
  • Ottumwa Transit Authority (OTA) in Ottumwa, IA; and
  • River Valley Transit in Williamsport, PA.
The case studies highlighted a number of benefits that have emerged from rural transit ITS deployments. The report presents overall benefits, as well as benefits for each specific technology deployed.

The Client Referral, Ridership, and Financial Tracking (CRRAFT) system is an inter-agency effort that grew out of the desire to better coordinate and monitor rural transportation funding. Access to transportation is critical to obtaining economic self-sufficiency for welfare clients. However, the State, community transit providers, and Tribal departments and agencies that serve these clients face barriers to coordinating transportation, particularly given the large size of New Mexico, the high poverty levels, and the low population densities. The different funding agencies and transportation providers saw a need to standardize client referral, ridership, and financial information to provide better information about usage and simplify reporting.

The CRRAFT system is a web-based software program designed to authorize and schedule trips, track riders, bill trips, and generate reports on a single application that can be accessed by users over the Internet. It was developed in-house by the Alliance for Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), with funding from the US Department of Transportation, ITS JPO. Once the system is implemented at all 26 of New Mexico’s transit systems, ATRI estimates that approximately 150 vehicles will be tracked and between 3,000 and 5,000 clients will be included in the system.

The project included procuring a multipurpose electronic farecard system and card readers for transit vehicles and incorporating them into the system. However, since this technology was not deployed at the time of the study, it is not included in this summary.


The research team conducted a two day site visit. The on-site visits consisted of conducting interviews with staff from the ATRI and with transportation administrators from the two beta test sites, Los Lunas Transit and the Zuni Reservation.


At the time of the case study, the transportation providers had only been using the CRRAFT system for approximately one week. However, they identified the following benefits of using the system:
  • Increased efficiency – The system offers better schedule management, ease of reporting to funding agencies, ability to monitor performance measures such as on-time performance, improved client referral system, and better load balancing on vehicles. One transportation provider estimated that CRRAFTS will save 3-4 days of work per month just for reporting.
  • Better customer service – The transportation providers will be able to use their vehicles more effectively which will reduce operating cost and help them provide more service for the same budget. Automating the client referral process will allow them to serve customers more effectively.
  • Improved productivity in operations – The system helps operators detect potential maintenance problems more effectively so that they can be quickly corrected. The system will help them track the vehicle replacement cycle.
  • Benefits to funding agency – CRRAFT will produce uniform reports from the transit systems which will allow the Public Transportation Program Bureau (PTPB) and other funding agencies to better monitor the level of service being provided.
In addition to these technology-specific benefits, the research team identified a number of benefits that were common to all of the five rural ITS deployments that they studied:
  • Increased agency collaboration – ITS projects can foster the development of better working relationships and partnerships between agencies.
  • Potential for increased ridership and revenue – ITS increases the attractiveness of the transit service, which could potentially increase ridership and farebox revenues.
  • Increased community confidence – ITS deployments have the potential to increase community confidence in the agency’s ability to operate an efficient, effective transportation system.
  • Increased self-confidence of agency staff – Through education and exposure to technology, agency staff self-confidence may increase

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Rural Transit ITS Best Practices

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-03-77



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Benefits From This Source

Implementation of a two-way radio network with paratransit scheduling software provides better customer service, better scheduling, and more efficient staffing.

Implementation of paratransit software with Automatic Vehicle Location/Mobile Data Terminal (AVT/MDT) technologies leads to increase in trip productivity; reduction in administrative staff; and greater overall confidence in the transportation system.

Implementation of radio system combined with AVL/MDT technology leads to increase in trip productivity and better vehicle maintenance in a large service area with low population density.

Implementation of Real-time Customer Information System leads to better customer service; fewer customer inquires; and better access for persons with disabilities.

New Mexico's scheduling/billing sofware leads to better customer service, more efficient reporting and billing, and better coordination between transportation providers and funding agencies.

Costs From This Source

Client Referral, Ridership, and Financial Tracking (CRRAFT), a New Mexico Web-based system that provides coordination between funding agencies and their subgrantees cost about $1 million to implement. CRRAFT is one of five transit agency highlighted in a rural transit ITS best practices case study.

Lessons From This Source

Consider different operational strategies when deploying ITS.

Consider various technical applications and processes, such as using GIS, evaluating systems compatibility and the facility for upgrades, when deploying ITS.

Design an ITS procurement process carefully to ensure the best outcome for vendor selection and performance.

Develop a thorough installation and implementation process as part of the ITS deployment.

Establish and follow a comprehensive project plan in anticipation of the deployment of ITS resources.

Examine multiple funding sources and anticipate unforeseen costs associated with deploying transit ITS.

Recognize that institutional and organizational issues will require considerable attention throughout the ITS project deployment process.

Train staff throughout the deployment of transit ITS projects to ensure successful implementation and use of ITS resources.

Goal Areas


Typical Deployment Locations

Rural Areas


automated vehicle location, computer aided dispatch, automatic vehicle locator, AVL, CAD, AVL/CAD, paratransit, demand-responsive transit, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Rural ITS, Transit ITS, scheduling software

Benefit ID: 2010-00639