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27 CHAPTER FIVE CASE STUDIES INTRODUCTION directly by the agency. The interviews explored issues raised by the survey responses in greater depth. OC Transpo and Survey results provide an excellent overview of the major TriMet also served as case studies for the previous TCRP issues regarding automatic passenger counter (APC) system synthesis on this topic. procurement, implementation, and use. Following a review of these results, six agencies were selected as case study sites. Personnel directly involved with APC deployment and use agreed to be interviewed by telephone. In some cases, more than one person at an agency either participated in the interviews or reviewed the draft summary of the case study. The case studies are intended to provide additional details on innovative and successful practices as well as on issues related to APCs. The selection process for case studies had several criteria: (1) to include transit agencies of various sizes in different parts of the country, (2) to include agencies that have achieved success in the use of APCs, and (3) to select agencies with varied levels of reported satisfaction with APCs so that ongo- ing issues can be better understood. More than two-thirds of OC TRANSPO (OTTAWACARLETON REGIONAL responding agencies offered to serve as a case study and, TRANSIT COMMISSION), OTTAWA, ONTARIO, CANADA as shown by examples from noncase-study respondents in chapters three and four, these agencies offered very interest- ing responses based on their experiences. The six agencies OC Transpo was a case study for TCRP Synthesis 29 and is chosen do not necessarily consider themselves as examples a long-time user of APC systems with more than 25 years' of best practices, but together they provide a representative experience. OC Transpo was formed in 1973, but has a his- overview of the state of APC system use. tory dating back to the 1870s under different names. The agency serves an area with a population of 778,000 and oper- The six case study agencies are ates 832 peak buses out of a total fleet of 991 buses. Annual ridership is 95.6 million (as of 2007). The Transitway, a ded- OC Transpo (OttawaCarleton Regional Transit icated system of bus-only roadways, provides an exclusive Commission), Ottawa, Ontario, Canada rapid transit link across much of Ottawa's urban area. RTD (Regional Transportation District), Denver, Colorado The agency originally relied on a signpost-based APC NFTA (Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority), system, however it is now moving to GPS. Earlier ver- Buffalo, New York sion APC equipment had no GPS capability, however now RTC (Regional Transportation Commission of GPS is built into all new APC hardware purchased since Washoe County), Reno, Nevada 2000. The switch to GPS "virtual" locations, replacing the Metro Transit, Madison, Wisconsin on-street signpost "fixed or hard" locations, has greatly TriMet (Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation improved APC locational accuracy. To gain further benefits District of Oregon), Portland, Oregon of GPS, the operating software still needs to be updated. OC Transpo has plans to migrate to new software that is more The case studies summarize survey responses and inter- mainstream and provided by a supplier that has other transit view observations from each agency. The introduction to clients. The current software is customized and used only each case study includes a basic description of the system, by OC Transpo; therefore, the agency pays the full cost of with data taken from FY 2006 NTD reports or provided any upgrades and has no recourse if the company decides to

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28 redeploy staff to other projects or even to discontinue sup- APC assignments appear in real time on their working porting the product altogether. The agency sees strong ben- screen. Even with this system, however, some assignments efits in using hardware and software provided by the same are still not completed as scheduled. The biggest of the agen- supplier. The possibility of being a part of an APC user com- cy's three garages is where most of the assignment problems munity that shares a common product, and its cost, is very occur, owing in large part to overcrowded conditions that appealing. make it difficult to park the APC buses in a separate area. A new bus garage is being constructed and is expected to Ninety buses, slightly less than 10% of the OC Transpo lessen problems with assignments not being properly com- fleet, are equipped with APCs. Each scheduled trip is sam- pleted. Even so, the assignment process works better now pled three times on average during each of the quarterly than it did 10 years ago. booking periods. Spread spectrum radio is used to down- load data at the garage. Spread spectrum radio has a limited The agency plans to implement new APC software by range, but is constantly polling and will find a bus entering 2010, with benefits including GPS identification of bus the garage and download APC data. Data are then moved to stops, more accurate trip and stop matching, increased data a central computer for processing. Automated downloading throughput, enhanced data quality, and improved hardware is simple, low cost, reliable, and low maintenance. Buses maintenance through the use of maintenance management continue to collect and store data for at least 2 to 3 days; tracking software. Another less tangible benefit of integrated therefore, no information is lost during rare system prob- hardware and software is establishing a good, solid product lems that cause automatic downloading to fail. with excellent technical support that will lessen the current reliance on the two staff members who have been the source OC Transpo has not employed traffic checkers since the of all APC knowledge within the agency. This will allow for APC system went online in the early 1980s. Current staff- a smoother transition on their retirement. ing needs include 3.5 positions: an APC supervisor, an APC analyst, a hardware technologist, and a part-time student Although there was initially a steep learning curve regard- from one of the local universities who assists with equip- ing training in the use of the APC system, APCs are now a ment maintenance. Estimated replacement cost for capital part of the fabric of the agency. Most planners and manag- equipment is $600,000 ($525,000 to purchase hardware plus ers who use passenger count data have never used anything $75,000 for installation) and $225,000 for software. Esti- other than APC data. mated annual operating and maintenance cost is $315,000. There are now many good APC suppliers offering com- The hardware technologist is a key position. This person plete packages of hardware and software, as opposed to has excellent rapport with other employees in the garages and the early 1980s when OC Transpo cobbled together its first also with the vendors. The hardware technologist maintains system. Using a single supplier for hardware and software the APC system and oversees all work on the bus (union should greatly improve an agency's ability to get APCs mechanics must do any work on the bus itself). up and running. All new OC Transpo bus purchases are prewired for APCs. This significantly reduces the installa- The part-time student position, APC technician, may be tion time for new hardware or moving equipment from bus unique to OC Transpo and is extremely useful. The agency to bus. It also allows greater flexibility in the selection of tries to hire a first- or second-year student who will stay on which buses to equip. the job for 2 to 3 years. He (or most recently, she) usually works nights and weekends when the hardware technologist The validation techniques have not changed over the past is not at work. She can perform preventative maintenance, 10 years. Critical factors analyzed in the validation of APC troubleshoot and identify problems with APC units as they data include the balance between boardings and alightings come in for the night or are parked on weekends, and com- at the trip level, total trip distance, stop recognition, and municate her findings electronically to the hardware tech- startend times. These same parameters will be used after nologist, who then arranges for a union mechanic to correct the software change, with an expectation of improved stop- the problem. level accuracy through the use of GPS. OC Transpo uses internally developed software to assist Bus itineraries are now seen as more accurate. Until in managing the sampling program to ensure that all trips recently, OC Transpo had a separate bus stop file for the are sampled. The program looks for trips and runs that have APC system, but now APC taps into and uses the bus stop not been sampled, identifies these runs to have an APC bus inventory in the scheduling and information systems' data- assigned the following day, and transmits the information to base. Customer service and other departments also use this the bus starter's screen in the garages. The bus starter assigns inventory, resulting in quick discovery and correction of any buses to operators, and it is very important that the requested errors and enhanced accuracy.