T3 Webinar Question and Answer Transcript

Beyond Scheduling: Transit Scheduling and Operations IT: Lessons Learned (May 31, 2012)

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Q. Can you establish reliability levels for the system and software? How is it measured? Most of what I am hearing are the typical issues with any large IT procurement. What staff will be trained in operations and maintenance for these systems?

Kranthi Balaram: We did establish reliability levels for the system and the software. We will have to find certain key testing criteria and the benefits measurements that we will be using throughout the project, and we will have certain phase gates for each of those projects. So, when we talk about extra-board management, we are looking into meeting most of the extra-board assignments within three minutes. So, that's one of the measurement criteria that we've established at the start of the project. Right now, our current systems are more physical, so the time that it takes to find out the next day's assignment and to assign it to people can run into hours, and bringing it down into three minutes is a measurement criteria that we have set up for that part. And for the biometric clock, in our current processes where a person has to show up to a base clerk and then get his assignment done and to go and drive his vehicle is a whole 10 to 15-minute process right there, and we will automate all of that by a person just using his biometric fingerprint and getting a printout on the computer, so, all that will be cut down to a few minutes.

Ray Burgess: In terms of the reliability of the system as a whole, our standard network reliability is 99.9 for having the system up, and so we would expect no less for this deployment.

Kranthi Balaram: Yes, within our RFP we have asked for a 99.9 percent uptime in terms of reliability of the system as a whole.

Ray Burgess: For the King County view, we've experienced almost no failures or downtime due to the Hastus system itself. It's entirely dependent upon our network quality, which is outside of the solution, and we have a very good “up” time record there too.

Q. What process was used for requirements gathering and tracking?

Kranthi Balaram: Well our project hasn't really started yet, so we have just issued an RFP out and then the process will start on requirements gathering. We will have 60 to 90 days of business process analysis, so we would be expecting the vendors to be coming down with the team at CTA, and we will sit with our Subject Matter Experts at day-long meetings to understand our current systems, our current union rules, and to have them all documented. But that's the process that we'll be using. We will have our consultants work directly with our end-users to know how they do their business today, and how do they want to continue doing it for tomorrow.

Q. What is your budget for this RFP?

Kranthi Balaram: Well, we cannot disclose the budget for the RFP right now because it's still in process, and it's a work in process, so it cannot be disclosed. Sorry.

Ray Burgess: I'm going to have to go back to my old memory, but the payment to the vendor was in the neighborhood of two million. I don't currently have a good handle on the in-house staff. It was probably 1.5 million in that neighborhood for this project. And again, that does not cover some of the very up-front portion of the project, but it covers from the time we started reviewing requirements through deployment.

Q. How does this project interface with your radio communication systems and AVL vehicle dispatch systems?

Ray Burgess: Yes, we currently have, really, sort of a static transfer of data. Each scheduled pick, we populate our bus tools product with new information on stops, timing points, and schedules, and so forth, and that gets distributed across our systems, so that becomes the basis of AVL and our annunciation system. I don't know all of the IT issues with this, but my vision would be that in daily operations, or a daily vehicle-type product that we're going to would be a lot more interactive, and we'd have the ability to update that each day if there are changes in the system.

Terry Regan: On behalf of the ITS, the Program Office, and the Volpe Center, I want to thank the presenters from CTA as well as King County Metro Transit. This is a good example of leveraging one asset, which was a Peer-to-Peer Program—which is one-on-one technical training—to also provide information to people throughout the country. We've had somewhere around 100 people logged in and listening today. And we just wanted to make sure and remind you of our next T3 coming up on June 7th, which is on Why Do Transportation Agencies Adopt ITS, and factors influencing ITS technology and adoption.

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