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39 A few agencies noted the establishment of defined Difficulties include problems ensuring that assign- interfaces between computerized scheduling software ments were completed, new demands for reports, low packages and APC or AVL systems. For data storage priority for APC equipment in the maintenance depart- and analysis, the most common changes were the addi- ment, and unrealistic expectations regarding turn- tion of servers for data storage and new database soft- around time and data quality. ware for analysis. Implementation of APCs creates a need for training. Automated data validation programs, provided by the A majority of respondents noted increased training APC vendor, developed in-house, or purchased from a needs in the areas of software/computer, analytical, third party, can simplify the process of converting raw and hardware skills. Only one-quarter of responding APC data into usable ridership data. Agencies reported agencies reported no additional training needs. various thresholds for determining validity at the block or trip level. The percentage of raw APC data that is converted into AGENCY ASSESSMENTS OF AUTOMATIC PASSENGER COUNTING SYSTEMS useful information averages 74%, comparable to find- ings from 10 years ago, with a median value of 80%. A majority of agencies rely on the hardware vendor The primary benefits of APCs included data disag- for data processing and report generation software, gregated at the stop, segment, and trip levels; better but several indicated in-house software development quality of ridership data; availability of running time or use of an outside vendor other than the hardware data to adjust schedules; and a better basis for decision vendor. Detailed (segment/stop level) ridership and making. scheduling-related reports are most likely to be gener- Problems encountered with the APC system included ated as needed, suggesting that the reporting process reporting software, data processing and analysis, data for these types of reports may require intervention in validation, and hardware problems. One-quarter or all defining parameters. respondents reported either no problems or only the More than 90% of responding agencies indicated a usual start-up issues. capability to generate ad hoc, specialized reports from Results regarding agency satisfaction with the perfor- the APC system. The most common method was for the mance of its APC system in terms of counting passen- end users to generate ad hoc reports, but one-quarter of gers are positive: Eighty-five percent of respondents agencies with this capability rely on the outside vendor were very or somewhat satisfied. Forty percent were for specialized report generation. very satisfied, and 45% were somewhat satisfied. Some agencies use APC data for NTD purposes. FTA Contract elements, procurement procedures, purchase requires manual checks annually to validate APC data of additional APC units, and the overall approach to for NTD submittal. The concept of manual validation APC implementation were the most frequently men- of APC data as a one-time or periodic exercise is of tioned aspects of the APC process that transit agencies interest to agencies as they gain confidence in the accu- would like to change. Regarding procurement, stricter racy of APC data. contractual requirements, purchase of a complete sys- Anyone who has been through the process of imple- tem through a single vendor, and changes to internal menting a new technology knows that there is a "debug- procedures were all important. Changes to the overall ging" period. The debugging period, during which approach included being more informed about APC start-up problems are resolved, averages 17 months for hardware and software choices, involving mainte- APCs, identical to the finding of the 1998 synthesis, nance personnel at the start of the process, dedicating with a median of 18 months. one or more technicians to work full time on APCs, The planning department is the most common location completing the bus stop inventory before installation, for management of the APC system, followed by the and hiring a statistician to develop a methodology for operations department. There is widespread involve- passenger counting before vendor selection. ment across departments in procurement of the APC system and use of the APC data. Downstream users typically access APC data electronically through stan- LESSONS LEARNED dard reports, and 41% of agencies noted that down- stream users could query the database directly. Almost three-quarters of all survey respondents that Implementation of APCs necessarily involves multiple have implemented APC systems shared lessons learned departments within the transit agency. Positive aspects from the process. Agencies focused on use and valida- include improved communication among departments, tion of the APC data, purchase and implementation, greater value placed on ridership data, improved and ongoing agency maintenance in the discussion decision-making ability, greater responsiveness, and of lessons learned. Agencies offered lessons in many the ability to provide the needed data to end users. areas, but the emphasis on data systems and agency