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

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

May 2010
Reno; Nevada; United States

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

Agencies will benefit from designating the project manager as the single point of contact with contractor. Agencies must also evaluate contractor’s track record in successful project management. In this regard, the lessons learned from the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County’s transit ITS planning and deployment experience offers the following guidance:

Designate the agency project manager as the single point of contact for the contractor.
    Once an agency selects a Project Manager for the transit ITS, that Project Manager should serve as a single point of contact for the contractor, not only for procurement but also implementation and operation. This is not to say that the Project Manager is the only person within the agency that the contractor should speak to. Rather, it means that the Project Manager should be aware of, and authorize communication between the contractor and other individuals within the agency.

    The reason for making the Project Manager the single point of contact is to insure consistency and that all contractor activities are coordinated. Because of the complexity of a transit ITS implementation, the contractor may need to work with several departments of an agency. Without a single point of contact, decisions may get made between the contractor and departments that are not consistent or coordinated with the other departments.

    The Project Manager must be kept aware of each action of the contractor and the agency departments, and how the action may impact the overall implementation, budget and schedule. The Project Manager can then work with the contractor to make decisions on changes or scheduling in order to make them beneficial to the agency as a whole.

    Because the Project Manager will be a single point of contact, the person must be knowledgeable about all systems and operations at the agency, and must be able to communicate with both the contractor and the many functional staff groups within the agency.
Prepare for the possibility of transition of project manager responsibilities.
    Although RTC has had the same project manager committed to this project since initial planning, the agency prepared for the possibility of a transition. The Project Manager should document interaction with the contractor throughout the project. While the ideal is for the agency to have a single project manager from beginning to end, it must be prepared for the possibility of a change. Documenting all interaction and decisions will provide a new project manager a background to help understand the current project status and what is expected from each involved party. The documentation will make a project management transition less disruptive. It also provides a “paper trail” in case of any disputes.
Evaluate contractor’s project management track record and have a protocol in place to avoid implementation disruption due to contractor's management turnovers.
    During the procurement and implementation process, RTC’s contractor changed its project manager four times and project engineer six times. RTC believes that these changes caused delays in the project because each new contractor staff person had to become familiar with RTC staff and the status of the ITS implementation.

    While RTC placed requirements in its RFP to specify that contractor project management changes must be approved by RTC, the contractor has often sought approval after the fact. RTC recommends that agencies carefully review and develop their contractor staffing requirements to minimize disruptions resulting from contractor staffing changes.

    During the selection process, RTC would recommend placing emphasis on each bidder’s recent project history and the project management within each. Consider giving added weight in past experience to those bidders who have had consistent and satisfactory project management and engineering on recent projects.
For successful deployment of a major ITS implementation initiative, designating the agency’s project manager as a single point of contact with the contractor is important, so is conducting an evaluation of the contractor’s project management track record, in order to avoid implementation disruption. 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: 2011-00607