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1 SUMMARY Improving Public Transportation Technology Implementations and Anticipating Emerging Technologies Study Purpose and Objectives The purpose of this study is two-fold: (1) to identify the steps that must be taken--by both individual transit agencies and the transit industry--to improve technology implementa- tions; and (2) to promote consideration of emerging technologies by identifying several developing technologies that have great potential for the transit industry. This study was motivated by the fact that, despite a number of individual success stories, public transportation in the United States has struggled to take full advantage of advanced technologies. Public transportation lags behind the commercial freight and air passenger transport industries. Some transit technology implementations have failed, and many don't perform as they can (for example, technology implementations that fail to integrate various technology systems within an agency). Further, few transit agencies are able, in any system- atic manner, to anticipate or plan for the adoption of emerging technologies. Many members of the transit industry feel that the industry has been stuck in a sort of quagmire for a number of years. Many transit agencies understand that they have struggled with technology, are aware of many specific obstacles they face, and even recognize a num- ber of the technology "best practices," but they somehow are unable to significantly improve their technology implementations. The solutions are not easy to implement, but this study identifies the key strategies and actions needed to move transit to the next level. The remainder of this summary highlights the major findings of the study and guidance based on these findings. Specifics, including best practices, are presented in the full report. Methodology This study featured three primary research methods: (1) a review of the public trans- portation and technology literature; (2) interviews with representatives from U.S. public transportation agencies, international public transportation agencies and transportation research organizations, and a U.S. commercial package delivery service; and (3) a day-long facilitated focus group with general managers (GMs)/chief executive officers (CEOs) and senior-level technology personnel from several U.S. public transportation agencies. Conclusions Study conclusions are organized into three main categories. The first category summa- rizes what is understood about the value of current technologies in public transportation. The second and third categories correspond to the two primary purposes of this study: improving transit technology implementations and identification of a few promising emerg- ing technologies.
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2 The Value of Technology Study conclusions about the value of current technology in public transportation are the following: · There is a wide range of mature, commercially available technologies applicable to every major activity undertaken by transit agencies, and these technologies have the potential to generate significant efficiency and service quality benefits. · Anecdotal evidence suggests that many benefits have been realized by U.S. public trans- portation agencies from implementing advanced technologies, but there is a very limited amount of reliable and transferable quantitative data on benefits. More formal, post- deployment evaluation of observed benefits is needed. · Despite great promise and some successes, the overall performance of technology in the U.S. transit industry has fallen far short of its potential, for three reasons: The processes used to deploy technology have not always addressed the most impor- tant issues--institutional and organizational issues. Transit agencies have not taken full advantage of the technologies they deploy, e.g., ana- lyzing data generated by vehicle tracking systems and using it to restructure their services. Few transit agencies have integrated their deployed technologies to any significant degree. Rather, most systems are implemented and operated separately, in a stand- alone fashion, and, consequently, synergistic benefits are not realized. · Many of the most progressive of U.S. transit agencies are focused on replacing, upgrad- ing, and/or integrating very mature technologies, such as vehicle tracking, rather than on identifying emerging technology applications. Private companies are significantly more focused on anticipating and adopting emerging technologies. · There is a continuum of approaches to technology deployment among transit agencies. Most U.S. agencies have stand-alone technology systems that reflect the objectives of indi- vidual business units within the agency. The most advanced U.S. transit agencies are begin- ning to integrate technologies and base investments on broader, agency-wide business objectives. Advanced international transit agencies have made more progress in integrat- ing their technology systems. Also, their investments are more often driven by agency-wide objectives, and, increasingly, on regional or even national mobility considerations. Improving Transit Technology Implementation Study conclusions about improving transit technology implementation in public trans- portation are the following: · There are a number of serious obstacles to successful deployment. Many transit agencies are aware of these obstacles, but still struggle to overcome them. Even the most progres- sive and successful agencies remain quite challenged by these obstacles. · The most challenging obstacles are institutional and organizational, including a shortage of visionary leaders and organizational resistance to change. There are a number of spe- cific strategies and actions ("best practices") that have been proven successful by transit agencies in addressing technology obstacles. Three of the most critical strategies are enter- prise architecture planning (EAP), systems engineering (SE), and change management. · EAP and SE are techniques that are vital to technology success and have been widely val- idated outside the transit industry. However, these techniques are fully understood and effectively practiced by only a few transit agencies. Of the two strategies, EAP is more over- arching and comes first sequentially. EAP focuses on the overall business goals and needs
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3 of the organization and providing the context and basis for technology investments. SE is a structured, rigorous process utilized to develop and implement specific technology proj- ects, that is, to implement the strategy identified through EAP. Both EAP and SE help maximize the benefits and cost-effectiveness of technology investments. The success of large, complex transit technology implementations cannot significantly improve if tran- sit agencies do not master these techniques. A considerable amount of general informa- tion is available describing how to implement EAP and SE (although this information does not necessarily target a transit audience). · Despite the benefits of EAP and SE--both provide returns well in excess of their addi- tional expense--widespread penetration and application of EAP and SE will constitute nothing less than a revolution in U.S. public transportation. First, these techniques, although scalable to fit the size and complexity of a project, are much more resource intensive and demanding than the inadequate methods that are typically utilized. There- fore, not only must the skills be present to understand and apply EAP and SE, agency leader- ship must buy into the value of these techniques and make the resources available for technical staff to learn and exercise the techniques. Second, many transit agencies are still in the earliest stages relative to EAP and SE, so they are either not fully aware of these tech- niques or have not accepted that they must utilize them. · In order to fully succeed, any significant technology investment must be accompanied by a robust and inclusive change management strategy. Change management includes various types of stakeholder involvement techniques and aims to promote awareness and under- standing, manage expectations, ensure readiness, and promote acceptance. Change man- agement is the most important tool for addressing the greatest obstacles to technology investment--institutional and organizational challenges. The fact that the vast majority of technology project failures stem from "people" issues rather than technical issues is widely accepted. Change management targets the "people" aspect of technology deployments. · In the general IT arena, the positive return on investment (ROI) of change management, methods for carrying out change management, and the need for change management have been well documented. What's preventing more transit agencies from practicing these techniques appears to be an underappreciation of the necessity of change manage- ment and resource constraints. · Comprehensive ROI analyses are vital for a number of reasons. These analyses promote good investment decisions, are useful in building support for investments, and, as a con- sequence of estimating benefits, help transit agencies visualize how they must utilize the technology in order to realize benefits. Good ROI analyses also provide--for individual agencies and the industry--a good baseline for before-after analyses. · In addition to the techniques of EAP, SE, and change management, there are many meth- ods and actions that have been proven successful in improving technology implementa- tions. These best practices cut across all aspects of agency operations, and all stages of technology implementation, from institutional to technical, and from procurement to operations and maintenance. The recommended best practices are described in detail in Chapter 2 of the full report. · All the greatest advice on "best practices" will not ultimately make the difference for tran- sit agencies that lack the fundamental, "prerequisite" conditions and capabilities neces- sary to carry out the best practices. Prerequisites include the following: Agency leadership (CEO, GM, and/or board) that understands and supports technology. A vision for how technology will permeate and benefit the agency. This vision must be directly linked to a phased, realistic plan identifying the steps and activities necessary to realize the vision, and that plan must be developed based on input from a very wide range of stakeholders.
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4 An organizational culture that supports technology and accepts change. A supportive community that values transit and supports investments, including tech- nology investments, to improve transit. Resources or the ability to get them (e.g., through good grant-writing skills or via partnering). · The prerequisite issue is a significant problem for transit. Participants in the transit agency leader focus group speculated that half of all U.S. public transportation agencies may lack these prerequisites. As long as these prerequisites are lacking, despite the best of intentions and full access to the best guidance, these agencies are at risk for failed or compromised technology implementations. Promising Emerging Technologies Study conclusions about promising emerging technologies in public transportation are the following: · Although it is not necessary or efficient (to individual agencies and their customers or to the industry overall) to have more than a few pioneering transit agencies on the technol- ogy "bleeding edge," more agencies need to move closer to the "leading edge." While the highest short-term priority is helping more transit agencies take better advantage of cur- rent technologies, the industry should not neglect the longer-term benefits of improving the industry's tracking and adoption of emerging technologies. · Emerging technologies in five areas that have high potential for transit include the following. Hybrid-electric transit buses will dramatically reduce vehicle emissions when they are more widely in use. (Although hybrid-electric transit buses are already in limited use at a few transit agencies, the dramatic impact of the proliferation of this technology warrants its inclusion as an emerging technology.) Various nanotechnologies, technologies engineered on the molecular scale, will make microprocessors smaller and more powerful and enable new and more effective sen- sors and forms of surveillance. Nanotechnology will improve almost every aspect of transit operations, including enabling increased automation of vehicle operations, ubiquitous real-time exchange of information with customers, and seamless integra- tion of services. Mechatronics--the integration of traditional mechanical systems with electronic com- ponents and intelligent software control--will greatly increase fuel economy, improve vehicle performance and safety, and streamline maintenance. Advances in speech recognition and language translation hold the potential to greatly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of transit customer service. Further, these tech- nologies enable the sort of communication necessary to support dramatically more flexible, convenient, and accommodating (for example, to non-English speakers) tran- sit services. Pervasive wireless communication describes a future condition when a wide range of mobile, radio-equipped devices--mobile telephones, computers, and various sensors-- will be able to form ad hoc communications networks. Cognitive radio, one of the methods for forming communications networks, uses smart communications devices to detect and utilize currently unused portions of local radio spectrum that are licensed to other types of devices. · There are many other emerging technologies that may hold potential for transit. These technologies include "electronic paper" and stretchable silicon that will enable better dis-
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5 plays and sensors; pseudolites and stereo video image processing, which fill global posi- tioning system (GPS) gaps to improve vehicle navigation; artificial intelligence (AI) tech- niques like Bayesian Machine Learning to facilitate data mining and recognition of customers' patterns and preferences; silicon photonics to increase the speed of commu- nications; quantum cryptography to improve data security; and terahertz radiation appli- cations to improve security and speed communications. Guidance Guidance resulting from this study falls into two general categories: the first category includes guidance for individual public transportation agencies and the second category consists of guidance for the public transportation industry in general. Guidance for Individual Public Transportation Agencies · Follow Best Practices. The overarching guidance for transit agencies is to take the time to read, understand, and employ the many best practices identified in the full study report (see Sections 2.2.2 and 2.2.3). · Be Realistic and Consider Prerequisites. Before contemplating technology investments, make a realistic assessment of the agency's ability to fully and successfully implement the system and operate and maintain it over the long term. That assessment must take into account the crucial roles played by EAP, SE, change management and a rigorous ROI analysis. The agency's ability to carry these activities out or the agency's resources for con- tracting these activities out and effectively supervising the contractor should be fully con- sidered. For example, assess the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) necessary for agency staff over the course of the entire system life cycle, starting with procurement, moving through operations, and ending with system replacement. If the agency is lacking in any area, focus on establishing those capabilities before moving ahead with deployment. · Emphasize Quality over Quantity. When planning for technology and pursuing specific investments, emphasize quality and sustainability. It is better to provide smaller, fully real- ized, and lasting improvements than to invest in ambitious systems that cannot be fully integrated within the transit agency or properly maintained over the long term. Doing an exemplary job of meeting important but realistic goals and objectives is a more valid way of distinguishing an agency as a technology leader than competing to implement the most, or the very latest, technologies. · Partner. Support and participate in cooperative efforts to pool expertise and other resources with transit agencies that have similar needs and interests. The developing Applied Transit Technology Center, led by the Utah Transportation Authority (UTA) in partnership with several other transit agencies, is a very promising example. The objec- tive of the Center is to serve as a collaborative effort or consortium among transit agen- cies to foster the application of technological innovation. Guidance for the Public Transportation Industry · Tailor funding to agency needs and capabilities. Study results suggest that technology deployment funding can be most effective in transit agencies that have the necessary pre- requisites for technology success. For agencies that lack those capabilities and conditions, it would be more effective to provide assistance in developing the prerequisites than to fund low-payoff technology deployment. Assistance in developing the prerequisites would be most helpful if it included training, consensus-building, outreach and educa-
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6 tion, planning support, and various kinds of technical support. In concert with restrict- ing deployment funding to capable transit agencies, make it easier for agencies not yet ready to deploy to say "no" to available deployment funding: allow them to convert deployment funds into technology technical assistance. · Provide more technical assistance and be more aggressive in promoting, and requiring compliance with, established policy and best practices. Study results suggest that the assistance and guidance provided to transit agencies for SE, EAP, change management, and ROI analysis be increased. It would be best if this increased support was combined with more aggressive oversight and enforcement (raise the level of expectation) of the existing FTA National Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Architecture Policy on Transit Projects that requires use of an SE analysis. (The term "Intelligent Transportation Systems" refers broadly to a wide range of advanced technologies for surface transporta- tion, including sensors, surveillance, communications, and data processing.) When fund- ing requests are evaluated, it would be useful to give greater consideration to transit agencies' readiness for technology deployment, as evidenced by their treatment of EAP; SE; change management; formal ROI analysis; and formal, post-deployment, quantitative evaluation. · Improve dissemination. It would be useful to enhance and supplement traditional meth- ods for disseminating TCRP study results. An enhanced strategy would be one that rec- ognizes that most practitioners suffer from a great surplus of information and a great deficit of time and energy to process it. An enhanced strategy would include a carefully crafted message delivered by a credible, energetic, and trusted messenger (an "evangelist") and disseminated using the latest and most effective mechanisms (see Section 4.2 for details). · Combine dissemination with political and policy arena follow-up. Even the most effec- tive dissemination of the findings of this study will not be sufficient to solve the funda- mental "prerequisite problem" faced by many transit agencies. Some agencies will need more help with the most fundamental challenges. Solving the prerequisite problem will require industry-level action in the political and policy arenas. Efforts should focus on specific actions and policies: Transit must be improved in order to play its necessary role in meeting future trans- portation challenges. Effective utilization of technology is a vital, primary means of improving transit (rather than just a "good idea if you can afford it"--we cannot afford not to). Technology cannot be effectively exploited without the proper support and resources being provided to transit agencies. The nature of this support should be carefully aligned with each agency's needs. Deployment funding should be restricted to those agencies with demonstrated prerequisites and a commitment to EAP, change manage- ment, ROI analysis, SE, and post-deployment evaluation. For agencies lacking the pre- requisites and commitments to change management, post-deployment evaluation, and other proven and needed techniques, resources should be provided in the form of tech- nical assistance to establish the prerequisites and other commitments.