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.

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

May 2010
Reno; Nevada; United States

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Lesson Learned

An agency’s human resources are key to the successful deployment and operations of an ITS program. The effective utilization of ITS tools is dependent on an agencies labor laws. The lessons learned from the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County’s labor contracts are presented below.
  • Beware of limitations of labor contracts that may adversely affect the efficiency of agency’s ITS operations. Transit ITS can provide a powerful set of tools to manage transit operations. However, the extent of effective utilization of the ITS tools can be limited by what agency staffs are allowed to do. RTC has experienced instances where the transit ITS could not be fully utilized due to labor rules. Two examples are provided below.
      (a) With the implementation of transit ITS, RTC’s fixed-route service (RTC RIDE) dispatchers now have the ability to monitor vehicle locations and schedule adherence in real time. The transit ITS also gives them the ability to send text messages to vehicle operators. When a vehicle is off-route or schedule, the dispatchers can, in theory, alert the operator and give some instruction to help them get back on route or schedule. However, labor contracts define that directing vehicles in such a way is a supervisor’s responsibility. Even though the dispatcher is usually the first to see such issues, he or she must contact a supervisor. In this case, the labor contracts prevent a dispatcher from directly using the transit ITS to resolve an on-street issue.

      (b) The playback feature of the transit ITS allows RTC to view a “replay” of a vehicle on any specific time and route or route segment. RTC uses the feature for many purposes, including examining customer complaints or grievances against particular vehicle operators. The complaints and grievances usually concern late or early vehicles. While the replay tool is considered “very reliable” by supervisors, dispatchers and management, it is not allowed to be used as evidence in grievances. Regardless of whether it proves or disproves a grievance, the labor contract does not allow use of AVL data for grievances.
  • Ensure that the management responsible for ITS planning and operations is knowledgeable about the agency’s labor contracts. During the planning process, transit agencies considering ITS should review and be knowledgeable about the labor contracts that define the jobs of each potential ITS staff group. If the labor contracts may adversely affect the use of ITS, the agency should consider whether to attempt to change the labor contract, or whether to modify its ITS plans to accommodate the existing agreement.
Despite limitations placed by labor contracts, 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: 2011-00605