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40 procedures suggests that these areas are critical to the and refined data processing and reporting procedures success of APC implementation. and integrated APC data with other agency databases. The Ottawa-Carleton Regional Transit Commission The agency paid close attention to balancing loads in a (OC Transpo) (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) was a case statistically reliable fashion and addressing other data study for the previous TCRP synthesis on passenger anomalies. The open architecture of the agency's data- counting and has been using APC data for more than base and the integration with the computerized sched- 25 years. It is an example of an APC system developed uling software resulted in the ability to access a wide in-house over a number of years that works extremely variety of data and generate innovative analyses. well. The agency has assigned staff to support the pro- gram and has developed bus assignment, reporting, and maintenance procedures to overcome problems. CONCLUSIONS AND AREAS OF FUTURE STUDY OC Transpo continues to adapt and refine APC use. The Regional Transportation District (RTD) (Denver, APCs provide a rich ridership and travel time data- Colorado) provides an example of successful APC base at a finer level of detail than farebox or manual implementation using third-party software. RTD pur- counts, even for agencies with only a few APCs. The chased reporting and analysis software at the same increased number of observations lends greater confi- time that the APC system was purchased. Clear iden- dence to decisions regarding changes in service levels. tification of responsibilities, close collaboration with An agency does not need APC units on all vehicles to maintenance and other departments from the outset, establish a workable APC system, although installation training for all staff using APC data, and emphasis on of APCs on all vehicles produces a richer database and quality assurance are the major factors contributing to avoids vehicle assignment problems. success. An APC system does not work automatically. The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) Successful agencies have developed procedures (in- (Buffalo, New York) case study provides an example of house or through an outside vendor) to match APC data an agency that developed its own in-house reporting to bus stops, clean and validate data, generate standard capabilities in response to dissatisfaction with the ven- reports, simplify the process of creating ad hoc reports, dor's reports. NFTA is also interesting in that system and flag potential hardware and software problems for ownership is split between the planning and mainte- the maintenance and information technology depart- nance departments. All issues have not been resolved, ments. The data processing and reporting software is even after 2 years of tweaking, but management and the most important part of an APC implementation. in-house users are pleased with the monthly ridership Integration of APC data with existing agency data- reports. Use of APC data to justify service changes is bases, which may also be changing as a result of new a standard practice. technologies, is challenging. Agencies' business prac- The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe tices and procedures may not be designed to make opti- County (RTC) (Reno, Nevada) is an example of the mal use of available data. introduction of APCs as part of a broader ITS procure- APC implementation is not simple, and the first year ment. RTC involved maintenance personnel at the out- is the most difficult. There is a steep learning curve, set and continues to focus on collaboration. RTC is still particularly on the software side, and there are likely working through post-processing issues, but already to be internal agency issues regarding responsibilities uses APC data for service-related decisions. and priorities. The Metro Transit (Madison, Wisconsin) case study Ownership of the APC system is important, as is col- is typical of the stage in many APC implementations laboration across departments. The ownership part of where there is no confidence in the APC data at any the equation, in which one department assumes overall level other than stop-level boardings and alightings. responsibility, ensures that the APC system receives Potential solutions involving revisions of the bus stop priority, and the collaboration part works best when inventory and route itineraries are known but are dif- the lead department is attuned to the needs and proce- ficult to implement with limited staff resources. In turn, dures of other departments and can adjust to meet these the lack of extensive useful APC data makes it hard to needs. A good working relationship between the lead justify added resources. department and the maintenance personnel assigned to The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District APCs is critical. of Oregon (TriMet) (Portland, Oregon) was also a Staffing presents a challenge, especially to small and case study for the previous TCRP passenger count- medium-sized agencies. Successful implementations ing synthesis and is an example of successful APC are characterized by close review of APC data as part implementation using in-house analytical software. of a quality assurance program, particularly in the first Its success over the past 25 years was aided by a large year when bugs are being worked out, and a dedicated information technology department that has developed maintenance technician or group of technicians who

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41 assumes primary responsibility for hardware issues. view it as a hardware problem, but its solution resides Agencies may not have the staff available or may not in considering both the hardware and the software used have staff with the right mix of skills. to clean and validate the data. Transit agencies that have worked through the myriad More precise identification of factors preventing suc- issues associated with APC implementation cannot cess and ways to overcome them. Data validation is not imagine life without APCs. These agencies reap the the only barrier to success. Broader hardware, soft- benefits of extensive and statistically valid data that ware, and personnel issues need to be addressed and are used with confidence to make important service- overcome, and a closer examination of successful strat- related decisions. egies would serve the transit industry well. Exploration of new technologies that may improve APC Findings from this synthesis suggest eight major areas of data collection accuracy. As ITS technologies evolve, future study: new hardware and software options that improve the accuracy of APC data are likely to emerge. What are In-depth investigation of critical factors to success. the most promising options to achieve improved count Are there optimal routines to match APC data to spe- accuracy, enhanced data quality, and reliable data loca- cific bus stops? What elements of a validation program tion matching? are most critical to ensuring quality data? Which ele- Investigation of alternative techniques, algorithms, ments of reporting software are most useful, and what and methodologies that can improve the state of the art is the best way to create ad hoc query ability? How of APC systems. As more agencies implement APC can APC data be integrated most usefully with exist- systems, the market for innovation grows larger. Using ing agency databases? How can an agency "manage" existing technology, what improvements can address the learning curve? Are there techniques to foster APC the needs of transit agencies? system ownership and collaboration? What if adequate Identification of business intelligence and data report- staff is not available and added staff is not an option? ing tools that can be used with APC data. As data sys- How important is a strong commitment from senior tems are integrated and downstream users begin to rely management to the APC program? on APC data, new approaches and innovative analyti- Exploration of various avenues to success. Both in- cal strategies can be expected. Additional uses of APC house and third-party approaches have been success- data will continue to emerge as users become more ful. Are there circumstances in which one is preferable knowledgeable and will affect data needs or the pri- to another? What is the state of the art in software pack- ority afforded to the APC system. Establishing a data ages? Ongoing developments within the transit indus- warehouse can provide an opportunity to take advan- try, such as deployment of ITS technology, increased tage of many business intelligence techniques such as vendor attention to complete (hardware plus software) data mining. product packages, and a wider choice of hardware and Institution of new methods of disseminating informa- software options (including off-the-shelf software), tion on APC systems. This synthesis has provided a affect the answer to this question and suggest addi- snapshot of the state of passenger counting systems in tional possibilities. 2008. An APC forum or workshop, webinars on APC Evaluation of data cleaning and validation tech- implementation and the use of APC data, and an elec- niques. This is an important barrier to success and tronic mailing list devoted to APC-related issues are is perhaps the major source of frustration to agencies all possibilities to extend the findings of this report that indicated dissatisfaction with their APC systems. and to provide a continuing means for agencies to Confidence in the accuracy of APC data is critical to its share information and learn from each other's experi- widespread use and acceptance within and outside the ences. The TCRP panel for this project strongly sup- transit agency. Many agencies struggling with this step ports this initiative.