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

As determined by the Washoe County Transportation's Regional Transportation Commission's ITS Implementation Evaluation.

May 2010
Reno; Nevada; United States

Summary Information

Beginning in 2000, the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County, Nevada, began planning for ITS implementation into their regional transit services. They set goals that aligned with the U.S. DOT's six goal areas for ITS projects and applied for funding for their project through the FTA. By 2007, RTC had completed the installation, testing and acceptance of the ITS components. This report is an evaluation of RTC transit ITS. It covers both planned and deployed components of their system, evaluating how well the system works to meet their initial goals and describing the functionality of the various components of the system. The report also includes lessons learned by RTC as they progressed through the procurement, deployment and operation processes in order to be a resource for other agencies contemplating similar ITS investments. RTC deployed automatic vehicle location (AVL), remote engine diagnostics (RED), computer-aided dispatch software (CAD), and automatic passenger counters (APC) in their vehicles. They also installed, but have not activated traffic signal priority (TSP) components.

The RTC looked at data points over a six year period, from FY2002 to FY2008 in order to evaluate how the ITS technologies may have affected ridership and uses of the systems by customers, staff and administration. A large pre-implementation window was used for analysis because RTC ACCESS (the paratransit service) began using scheduling software in 2005, ahead of the rest of the system and the same time scale was wanted for the analysis of both fixed-route and paratransit services. Each of the six U.S. DOT goal areas were assigned measures to evaluate RTC's progress in that goal area.

RTC estimates that increased transit use in the Reno-Sparks region between 2002 and 2007 may have saved 9.37 million personal vehicle miles traveled (PVMT). The reduction in PVMT potentially saved up to $1.37 million in fuel costs for passengers who chose transit over driving their personal vehicles. CO2 reduction from the increased use in transit is estimated to be up to 4,252 metric tons.

Table 6-2: Estimated Potential Vehicle Energy and Emission Savings from Increase in RTC RIDE Ridership

Passenger Miles
Increase in Ridership
Average Transit Trip Length (miles)
Equivalent Average Vehicle mile per Transit Trip [1] (miles)
Vehicle Miles Saved from Increased Ridership
Fuel Reduction [2] (gallons)
Average Fuel Cost [3] ($/gallon)
Total Fuel Cost Saving ($)
Total CO2 Emission Reduction [4] (metric tons)
$ 1.64
$ (607,378)
$ 1.92
$ 9,399
$ 2.34
$ 651,928
$ 2.64
$ 1,143,420
$ 2.85
$ 172,960
$ 1,370,329

[1] A conversion factor of 4:1 (4 vehicle miles:1 passenger mile) is used for calculating the equivalent average vehicle mile per transit trip.
[2] The fuel reduction is calculated from vehicle miles saved from increased ridership divided by an assumed fuel economy factor of 23 miles per gallon.
[3] The average fuel cost is taken from National Transportation Statistics - Table 4-38.
[4] A CO2 emission rate of 1 pound per single person automobile mile is used for calculating total CO2 emission reduction.

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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



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Benefit of the Month for August, 2011 !

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.

Benefit ID: 2011-00706