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24 Respondents were asked, "If you could go back in time TABLE 25 and change ONLY ONE aspect in the process of purchasing, Lessons Learned from Survey Responses installing, and using your APC system and associated meth- odology, what would you change?" Table 24 summarizes the Agencies Responding results. Category No. % Improvements related to the procurement process and Data processing/use/reporting 14 41.2 contract elements were most frequently mentioned. These Purchase/implementation 9 26.5 included stricter contractual requirements (regarding accu- racy, timely support, availability of spare parts, and time- Data validation 7 20.6 lines), purchase of a complete system through a single Maintenance 7 20.6 vendor, avoidance of purchase through a consortium, and changes to internal procedures. Staff/resource needs 5 14.7 Time frame 5 14.7 Additional APCs and differences in approach also ranked highly. "Approach" is a catch-all category that includes being Testing 5 14.7 more informed about hardware and software choices, involv- ing maintenance personnel at the start of the process, dedi- Experience of peers 4 11.8 cating one or more technicians to work full time on APCs, Training 4 11.8 completing the bus stop inventory before installation, and hiring a statistician to develop a methodology for passenger Other: procedures 6 17.6 counting before vendor selection. Testing, different choices Other: staff/management 3 20.6 of hardware, and enhanced training were also mentioned by more than one respondent. Other: APC system inputs 2 17.6 Total responding 34 100.0 LESSONS LEARNED FROM SURVEY RESPONSES Approximately 40% of all survey respondents and 73% of Survey Responses: Data Processing, Use, and Reporting agencies that have deployed APCs shared lessons learned from the implementation and use of APC systems. The les- Pay attention to post-processing capabilities. sons learned can be grouped into nine broad categories plus Concentrate on the soft side of the system--this is three miscellaneous categories (respondents had a lot to where success is really achieved. say!), as shown in Table 25. Lessons regarding data process- Listen to and tailor reports for system users (planners, ing and use led the list of topic areas, followed by purchase schedulers, management). and implementation, data validation, and maintenance. Ensure that staff monitors the system and understands how to use the data. Responses are presented by category below. Ensure that staff is capable and comfortable analyzing and using APC data. TABLE 24 Find out how valuable the canned reporting software One Improvement to the APC Process is, and be prepared to buy a good program and hire or use people in your agency to develop a program. Be sure that the system purchased has good report- Agencies Responding ing capabilities and can balance loads in a statistically Improvement No. % valid manner. Contract and procurement 8 25.0 Purchase reporting and analysis software on the front end. Develop report generation software internally if the Additional APCs 7 20.6 agency has staff with the right skill sets; having an Approach 7 20.6 internal capability to modify or generate new report is very beneficial. Testing 4 11.8 Ensure that the software program provides required Hardware 3 9.4 analysis. Think long-term, and ensure that data structures can Training 2 5.6 be integrated with downstream applications. Be sure that the system purchased has good software Total responding 32 100.0 with diagnostic capabilities.

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25 Understand uses and limitations of the data, depending fashion by means of vendor equipment diagnostic data partly on how many APC units are deployed. files and reports. Realize that software issues are part of APC growing pains. Survey Responses: Staff and Resource Needs Survey Responses: Purchase and Implementation Make sure your staff has or gets the required resources and knowledge--APCs don't automatically work. Buy APC software and hardware from the same ven- Include a hardware technologist on the APC staff to dor--life is much easier. coordinate new bus installations and ensure that all Be aware that a stand-alone APC system (i.e., not part buses are counting properly. of a larger ITS system) is best. Consider staff abilities when planning for any new system. Do not implement until software is ready. Do not expect miracles without very responsible and Realize that more is always better when it comes to involved "owners" of the APC system. APC units to maximize the degree to which signifi- Plan on extra staff in the short term and for maintenance. cant data levels can be aggregated over time for spe- Be sure to have at least one dedicated full-time staff cific routes. person to support the APC system. Realize that an APC program can be successful with Dedicate one full-time maintenance person to the APC 10% of the buses equipped with APCs. system. Specify standards for accuracy of both counts and pas- senger-mile calculations as a disqualifying factor for Survey Responses: Time Frame acceptance in the request for proposals. Focus on equipment acceptance standards. Make sure that the organization knows that APC imple- Work with a company that can deliver the total proven mentation cannot be done in a year--it takes about 3 package. years to work out all the bugs. Calibrate units as part of the standard operating proce- Be patient. dure before implementation. Prepare for the long haul; counters are not as easy to install as people think. Survey Responses: Data Validation Realize that start-up time is longer than stated. Expect growing pains associated with APCs. Conduct an ongoing manual versus machine validation program. Survey Responses: Testing Maintain manual staff for periodic manual checks to validate data. Do not always believe what vendors tell you. Understand the error rate of manual counts before Test every single aspect of the system before acceptance. expecting 100% accuracy from machines. Do exhaustive testing of the APC system. Make sure the data are validated. Focus on testing. Ensure all data are correct. Do not let a vendor tell your management that its sys- Maintain a manual method or develop some other tem will get 100% of the data. method to cross-check the data before eliminating manual method. Survey Responses: Experience of Peers Do not assume that calibration testing will occur: Go out and verify the counts for yourself. Always try to find other agencies that have this new equipment and ask about their experience before decid- Survey Responses: Maintenance ing to purchase. Contact and visit other agencies and bring a cross-func- Involve maintenance early and find people who can tional team with you to see how they use APCs. handle troubleshooting of APC equipment. Seek advice from peers using the same or similar Dedicate a maintenance person to the APC system. equipment. Ensure timely maintenance on the basis of good diag- Visit other properties and learn from them. nostics produced by or derived from the collected data. Plan on extra maintenance staff. Survey Responses: Training Realize that hardware issues are part of APC growing pains. Make sure that your staff gets the needed knowledge of Develop a maintenance plan upfront. the system through training. Identify malfunctioning equipment and to transmit Make sure that qualified staff are trained to monitor the this information to maintenance personnel in a timely system and use the data.