Promising Practices: Transit Technology Adoption Common Themes
- Date: February 16, 2022
While the promising practices profiled in this Guidebook are varied in nature and the types of benefits accrued to transit providers, there were several common themes identified that helped to facilitate practice adoption.
A number of the practices profiled were made possible via partnerships that contributed funding, staff hours, and expertise to bring a practice to fruition. Several of these partnerships engaged with organizations outside of the transportation industry, including the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities funding of the development of CARTA’s WayFinder technology and Blue Lake Rancheria’s work with local university students to develop the plan for their waste oil to fuel solution. State governments also played key roles in realizing practices, including the development of the Connect app for Ann Arbor and Detroit created through the statewide Michigan’s Mobility Challenge and South Carolina DOT’s support for CATbus electric bus program. Johnson County worked with RideKC, the Kansas City region’s largest public transit agency, and partnered with microtransit vendor Transloc and a local taxi service under their preexisting contracts with RideKC.
Vendor Research and Engagement
Many of the practices profiled were the result of or benefited from extensive vendor research and engagement. Mobile fare payment technologies scaled to smaller agencies were developed in response to demand from smaller agencies. CATbus worked closely with Proterra to resolve technical issues with first-generation electric buses. Portneuf, an agency with a staff of three, continued their long-term search for a vendor to provide a CAD-AVL and fare payment solution that was not cost prohibitive. This search led them to a French company, with whom they worked to adapt their product to the North American market.
Engagement from key external stakeholders throughout the development and implementation of practice was also common. Organizations representing elderly and disabled Vermonters, such as the Vermont Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Vermont Center for Independent Living, were heavily involved in the process of developing and marketing Go Vermont!. The development of Go Vermont! also benefited from existing strong relationships with employers and transportation management associations, and strong buy-in for transportation demand management strategies among state leadership. CARTA is working with Chattanooga’s Orange Grove Center, a facility that serves disabled adults, to pilot their WayFinder technology. The development of the WayFinder technology and the development of Michigan’s Connect app both benefited from strong relationships and communication with a variety of stakeholders.
Minneapolis’ implementation of Mobility Hubs also relied upon its extensive engagement process. Going to the target communities, listening to residents’ concerns, and changing the Mobility Hubs as a result of that engagement, helped members of these underserved communities feel like this was more than another City project, it was something intended to help meet their mobility needs.
Internal stakeholder involvement was crucial for Mountain Line. Given the large systemic nature of the shift from paper-based maintenance online, IoT-enabled asset management system, continuous internal stakeholder engagement and support from senior leadership were essential to the implementation. A range of staff, from the Business Manager to staff in the Facilities and Fleet Divisions, joined the Implementation Team to provide detailed feedback during the initial development process and to ensure that the solution implemented would meet their needs and expectations.
While all of the practices profiled resulted from careful planning, lessons learned shared by interviewees often related to additional elements of planning or implementation undertaken or that would have been beneficial in response to the initial deployment. Go Vermont! noted that the lack of established measures of success at the outset of the project which made program evaluation more difficult, as did having as insufficient knowledge about why their desired end- users make the transportation choices they do. Portneuf spent double the time on training and implementation (six months versus three) in deploying their CAD-AVL system and training staff on its use. In Johnson County, demand for their Flex service quickly outstripped the County’s ability to deliver it and the County had to quickly shift to planning for growth of their Flex service to meet the community demand.
The common themes speak to agencies that are resourceful in seeking out not only new practices but in finding ways to fund and implement new practices that are cost-effective and practical for smaller agencies.