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71 CHAPTER 7 USE OF TECHNOLOGY The use of ITS components and other technologies is a AVL--Determines vehicle location using navigation sen- subject of ongoing interest among both transportation pro- sors, usually a Global Positioning System (GPS), most com- viders and human services agencies and has been the focus monly by sending position data to a base station via radio or of a number of studies and demonstration programs. This other communication link. chapter provides background information from one previous Fare Media (e.g., bar code, smart cards, magnetic stripe study, then describes how three case study subjects are using cards)--These allow easy identification of passengers and technology to improve coordination of transportation ser- the payment of fares without cash. Magnetic stripe cards vices for the transportation disadvantaged. electronically deduct the trip fare from the account balance As coordinated transportation systems begin to serve on the card. Smart cards work in a similar fashion, deducting more clients, operate more vehicles, involve more agencies the trip fare from the cash value stored on an embedded and funding sources, or serve a larger geographic area, the microchip. operation and management of the system become more Geographic Information Systems (GIS)--Computer complex. Although this growth allows more system effi- mapping application that displays and analyzes the spatial ciency through the sharing of resources (economies of relationship between different data such as vehicle routes, trip scale), it can also present difficulties if supporting technol- pick-up and drop-off points, bus stops, streets, and landmarks. ogy is not upgraded. For example, it may no longer be pos- Mayday System--Allows the vehicle operator to trip an sible to handle trip scheduling and vehicle dispatching inconspicuous onboard switch to alert the base station of an functions manually as the number of trip requests increases. accident, crime, or medical or other emergency. More sophisticated communications systems may be A cautionary note: In considering the technology possi- needed to communicate with drivers or vehicles. More bilities outlined above, be aware that while technology can advanced accounting, billing, and financial reporting sys- often be a helpful solution to a need or problem, such solu- tems may become necessary to keep track of multiple fund- tions can be both expensive and difficult to implement. ing sources, bill the various human service agencies, and Careful thought and evaluation is necessary before deciding provide timely and accurate reports to management and to that a particular solution is right for a given need and orga- funding agencies. nization. It is not uncommon for an organization to adopt a The role that technology can play in the coordination of technology solution only to find itself mired in a situation transportation services is aptly explained in TCRP Report 76, requiring additional unanticipated human, financial, and other Guidebook for Selecting Appropriate Technology Systems resources because it selected an inappropriate technology for Small Urban and Rural Public Transportation Operators. for the task or because staff was not adequately trained to Following is a brief description of some technologies that install or operate the equipment. would be most applicable to the delivery of coordinated transportation services, based on TCRP Report 76. CASE STUDIES Demand-Responsive Transit Software--Expedites call taking; automatically schedules trips and routes vehicles; col- The subjects for the clustered minicase study on the topic lects and maintains client, service, and vehicle data; and gen- of technology were selected to illustrate the ways in which erates standard and customized reports. Both automated and technology can facilitate coordination of such functions as computer-assisted software is available. Automated software vehicle operations, billing, grants management, and report- schedules trips and routes vehicles using internal computa- ing. There were three case study sites: tions; computer-assisted software requires some additional decision making from the computer operator to generate routes · The New Mexico CRRAFT system developed by the and schedules. ATRI. MDT or Mobile Data Computer--Serve as links between · The use of AVL/MDTs and automated scheduling and the transit system control center and a driver to relay relevant dispatch software at the Ottumwa Transit Authority information, such as dispatch, trip, route, and rider data. (OTA)/10-15 RTA.
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72 · The use of linked trip reservations and centralized · Selected developmental disability service providers. scheduling/dispatching software at the St. Louis TMA. · The Welfare-to-Work Program of the New Mexico DOL (an original, not a current participant). The experiences of each of the three subjects are sum- · The TANF and Food Stamps Programs of the New marized below. More detailed descriptions can be found in Mexico Human Services Department. the complete case studies in Appendix A on the accompa- · The New Mexico Department of Vocational Rehabilita- nying CD-ROM. tion (an agency that has recently started to participate in the system). New Mexico There is anecdotal information that the cost per passenger mile has decreased as a result of using the CRRAFT system; The CRRAFT system is a statewide technology deployment however, there is no supporting data at this time. The FTA intended to streamline the data reporting process between the and the ITS Joint Program Office have hired a consulting PTPB of the New Mexico DOT and its subgrantees. In addi- team to conduct an evaluation of the system that will include tion, the system will ultimately integrate human services a before-and-after analysis to determine any increased effi- transportation referrals with daily rural public transportation ciencies from use of the CRRAFT system. This evaluation operations. should be completed by the end of 2004. CRRAFT is a web-based application that includes stan- The CRRAFT system assists human services agencies with dardized invoicing and ridership reports, a simplified sched- the generation of financial and client tracking reports, as well uling tool, and modules that can be used by transit providers as generating FTA Sections 5310, 5311, and JARC reports to track vehicle usage and maintenance. Eventually, the sys- for transit systems. Through the use of standard reports, the tem will include installation of magnetic stripe readers on CRRAFT system has likely reduced the time required for the vehicles, which will be used to read information from clients' PTPB to provide payment to subgrantees. Electronic Benefits Transfer cards. The focus of this system is on improving coordination between human services and transportation funding agencies and their subgrantees. OTA Individuals applying for public assistance do so through the New Mexico Human Services Department, Income Sup- OTA operates both fixed-route and demand-responsive port Division. Once an individual has been approved for pub- transit services in the City of Ottumwa, Iowa. In addition, lic assistance, a case worker assesses the client's available OTA operates demand-responsive and regional rural services transportation resources and needs. If the client requires in the remainder of the ten-county area (Iowa DOT Region transportation assistance and if the chosen means of trans- 15) as a contractor to the 10-15 RTA. A significant amount portation is public transit, the client is given transportation of coordinated client transportation is provided under con- privileges on his or her benefits' card, and the case worker tract to human services agencies. provides a referral to a transportation provider. Referrals are OTA was a relatively early adopter of advanced technolo- currently completed manually and then faxed to the trans- gies, receiving an FTA demonstration grant in 1995 to imple- portation provider. ment AVL/MDTs to improve communications between the After the referral information has been entered into the central administration/dispatch office and vehicles serving a database, the transportation provider can obtain the client ten-county service area. The AVL/MDT implementation is information from the CRRAFT system. Clients eligible for also aimed at increasing the safety and security of vehicle demand-responsive service call the transportation provider to occupants, especially while traveling in remote rural areas. schedule a trip. The trip request is entered into the CRRAFT In addition, OTA has installed automated scheduling and dis- system, and the provider schedules the trip. When making the patch software. trip, clients show their benefits' cards to the driver, who Goals for the ITS project include the following: records the card information, which is entered into the CRRAFT system at the end of the day. Once the card read- · Achieving reliable communications with all vehicles ers have been installed, this process will be automated. throughout the ten-county area. Clients eligible for fixed-route trips will simply board the bus · Identifying the location of all vehicles, particularly the and show their cards to the driver. 40 vehicles based outside the Ottumwa facility. The CRRAFT system has been implemented at 26 rural · Increasing the safety and security of drivers and pas- transit centers throughout New Mexico and is used to track sengers on board vehicles, particularly in remote areas. an estimated 150 vehicles and 3,000 to 5,000 human services · Transmitting maintenance problems and results of pre- clients. Clients from a number of agencies are included in the trip vehicle inspections to the base station. CRRAFT system, including the following: · Facilitating the billing process.