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CASE STUDIES CAPITAL AREA RURAL TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM, AUSTIN, TEXAS The rapid growth has been funding and procurement. problematic for CARTS. While funding has remained largely In Fiscal Year 2002, the ABOUT CARTS static, parts of the service area CARTS RTD operated 176,496 have doubled in population, demand-response trips over This additional case study is in- making it very difficult to ade- 856,562 miles and 73,277 tended to focus solely on the quately meet the needs of these hours. The fixed routes pro- new paradigm of Adopting faster-growing parts of the ser- vided another 89,497 trips over Technology. This extra case vice area. The other difficulty 286,881 miles and 17,212 study was initiated to ensure that encountered from the change in hours. To provide this service, the new paradigm of technology demographics is the population CARTS operated 88 vehicles in was represented. The fact is, shift to the exurban areas and Fiscal Year 2002. CARTS is most rural transit systems use a the employment shift to the funded through federal Sections minimum of the ITS technology suburbs. Technology is one set 5311 and 5310, Title III Aging, that is used for fixed-route and of tools that CARTS has used Title XIX Medicaid, and other large urban paratransit. CARTS to keep up with the changes in human service funds; state tran- is an exception to that rule. For its service area. sit funds; local government ITS purposes, CARTS is consid- funds; and farebox revenue. ered to be one of the most highly CARTS (a political subdivi- advanced transit systems in the sion) provides for a variety of The Progression from the nation. This case study will de- ground transportation services, Previous Role s c r i b e C AR T S 's u n i q u e including fixed-route, fixed- approach to this paradigm. schedule, commuter, and para- Over the past 10 years, CARTS transit services for all groups of has taken advantage of Ad- Service Area and people, including the general vanced Public Transportation Demographics public, the elderly, and persons Systems (APTS) technology with disabilities. In addition to and is recognized as one of the CARTS provides transportation its role as a public transit pro- nation's leaders in implement- services for a rapidly growing vider, CARTS also coordinates ing rural transit technology. nine-county area surrounding services through contracts with CARTS has been cited in two Austin, Texas, home to 428,000 a variety of human service national studies for its rural rural Texans. The area has en- agencies to provide client trans- APTS successes. CARTS has joyed a population increase of portation services and with the been successful due in part to 46.5% since the previous census TxDOT Austin District office, its phased-in approach toward in 1990. which coordinates Section 5310 technology deployments. Its 23
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CASE STUDIES CAPITAL AREA RURAL TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM, AUSTIN, TEXAS philosophy has been to imple- ing all of the technologies in · Uniform recordkeeping-- ment one ITS change at a time, place, implemented mobile data Technology would generate and once it is operating success- terminals (MDTs) and auto- accurate and timely reports. fully, begin the next phase. matic vehicle locators (AVLs), again being one of the very first Slow and incremental is the ap- successful implementations in ADAPTING TO A NEW proach that was used in this rural areas. PARADIGM most successful implementation of APTS technologies in rural Why Has CARTS CARTS management has long transit. The first step in the proc- Changed? believed that technology can be ess was to procure automated a part of the long-term solution. scheduling demand-response For purposes of this study, the CARTS has thus embraced the software (DRT)--the heart of focus will be on technology ap- following paradigm. any paratransit automation pro- plications and its corresponding ject. It took more than a year to paradigm. CARTS had a goal Adopting Technology gain proficiency in this software. more than 10 years ago to be a CARTS first implemented the leader in the use of technology, CARTS, like most rural transit DRT in 1994, being one of the reasoning that new technologies systems, has far less informa- first successful rural installations can help improve service for tion technology (IT) support in the nation. CARTS staff now customers in a number of ways. staff than a typical larger urban has almost 10 years of experi- CARTS management cited a system has. This has been one ence in operating the software. number of goals back in 1993 of the primary reasons why ru- The second step in the ITS proc- for its technology improve- ral transit systems have had far ess was to implement a fully ments: less success in adopting tech- digital radio system covering all nology than their urban coun- nine of the counties in the dis- · Uniformity of service-- terparts have had. A second trict. CARTS completed this The software technology hurdle that most rural systems step in 1997. CARTS purchases would ensure that all trips face is funding and cost-benefit state-of-the-art communications are booked in a similar analysis. CARTS had to over- services from the Lower Colo- manner. come these two hurdles prior to rado River Authority (LCRA), a success. CARTS management conservation and reclamation · Greater passenger pro- had been interested in using district created by the Texas leg- ductivity--Technology technology to help support the islature that supplies power would help improve pro- system for many years. The so- throughout the entire CARTS ductivity. lution to these hurdles was for service area. When the LCRA CARTS to take the cautious built its communication system, · Greater staff produc- approach, implementing one it was looking for other govern- tivity--Fewer staff would technology at a time, perfecting mental entities to participate in be needed to conduct the it, then considering other tech- the system. CARTS was the reservation, scheduling, and nologies (unlike many rural very first, due to the diligence of dispatch process. systems that attempted to do too management who were monitor- much at one time). CARTS ing its progress a year before it · Improved customer management felt that this was was implemented. The LCRA service--The reservation the best way to adapt to the new now has many emergency ser- process would be stream- technologies. CARTS slowly vice providers throughout the lined. gained experience with the region using this radio system. DRT software and ultimately · System safety--Communi- devoted part of one staff per- The LCRA has provided techni- son's time to IT support. In ad- cations equipment would cal and engineering support to dition, through an agreement enhance emergency capa- CARTS in all aspects of its with the LCRA, CARTS com- bilities. voice and data communication munications engineers supplied system. In 2003, CARTS, hav- considerable free technical as- 24
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CASE STUDIES CAPITAL AREA RURAL TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM, AUSTIN, TEXAS sistance (CARTS was the first tion of the MDTs for the read- CONTACT customer on the LCRA commu- ing of magnetic stripe cards and INFORMATION nications network--that was im- the immediate downloading of portant). CARTS also used the the information to the CARTS Capital Area Rural Transporta- services of a consultant to assist central data network. tion System (CARTS) in the development of the re- 2010 East Sixth Street quest for proposals and the pro- Subsequent goals for the card Austin, TX 78702 curement process. readers include the following: Tel: (512) 481-1011 Fax: (512) 478-1110 What Is the Result? · Create operational efficien- cies for CARTS in the ar- Dave Marsh, To date, results of implementing eas of data collection and Executive Director the technology have given reporting and fare collec- Dave@ridecarts.com CARTS a number of benefits for tion and billing, allowing the system and its customers. data collection and billing First, CARTS now has improved resources to be diverted to reporting and recordkeeping in the provision of actual ser- real time for the system. The vice. Ultimately, this will DRT software has improved the include debit functions and reservation process, most impor- electronic benefit transfers tantly by turning reservations from human service agen- and scheduling into a uniform cies. procedure that treats all custom- ers equally. The DRT software · Assist TxDOT and its rural also allows CARTS to easily operators (through en- expand its paratransit operations. hanced recordkeeping and The software supports the reser- reporting) in the coordina- vations, scheduling, and dispatch tion of human service trans- process, thereby both speeding portation now under the process up and allowing each TxDOT's control. staff person to be more produc- tive. · Simplify payment by cus- tomers, making the service The communications technology easier to use. has dramatically improved com- munications and is able to sup- · Improve and simplify port the entire digital network CARTS fare collection. currently in place. The emer- gency functions tied into the sys- · Increase in-house data tem help everyone: drivers, dis- management and report- patchers, customers, and man- writing capabilities. agement. The AVL adds a layer of safety and also supports the dispatcher, while the MDTs can CARTS management noted reduce the expense of record- early on in the process that re- keeping due to the one-time data ductions in operations funding entry function. might be, in part, made up by the judicious investment in Future Effort s technologies. The next step for CARTS is to employ the card read/write func- 25