Christopher J. Holliday, STV's vice president - manager of vehicle and systems engineering, agrees. "Internet-based collaboration tools have revolutionized the delivery of the complex projects typical with the installation of transit systems or building transit vehicle fl eets. Such projects typically involve multinational corporations with work activities taking place on multiple continents.
"Tools such as Autodesk Buzzsaw, Skire Unifi er and other Internet-based collaboration tools allow these geographically distributed project teams to communicate, work together on the same set of documents and ensure that all project resources are available to all project participants regardless of location or time zone."
While Washington Group's Dan Kahn agrees that online collaboration is one of the greatest technological advancements benefi ting the engineering industry, he doesn't limit that benefit to connectivity software.
Kahn states, "Today, almost all disciplines use software to produce designs. Some of the most critical areas of transit design involve tunnels, platforms, tracks and the three major systems of communication, train control and traction power.
"We rely extensively on off-theshelf software to design and produce documents. For example, the CADD 2D/3D enables us to design, draft and view facilities; tunnel ventilation system exclusively depends on computerized fluid dynamics (CFD) software to predict and design smoke management system; simulation software predicts train performance and power requirements which are utilized to design ATC and traction power systems. All of the above tools reduce design time by providing accurate calculations, enabling existing designs to be modifi ed for site-specifi c needs, permitting rapid changes and shortening the review/acceptance process."
Mark Walbrun looks at the technological advancements with a more hands-on approach. He sees the introduction of graphical information systems (GIS) as an immediate benefi t for the transit engineer.
"A quiet revolution has taken place in transit planning and design through the use of GIS. The linking of maps, aerial photos and population data has revolutionized our business and made 'What if?' and other comparisons available with a few key strokes that would have taken months of study only a decade ago.
"We are now able to design services that match the best available data on land use, population, traffi c congestion, road capacity, rail capacity and origin-destination studies. The transition from planning to engineering has been made much smoother by the use of common backgrounds and overlays so that the fi nal design engineer can easily comprehend what the concept and preliminary designer was trying to accomplish and save regenerating new backgrounds."
CUTTING CONSTRUCTION COSTS
While the images of Hurricane Katrina played across televisions across the nation, the storm's effects could be seen just as vividly for those looking at construction projects. Combining this catastrophe with the increased fuel costs and construction costs have been severely increased and look to stay there. So what do the consultants suggest agencies do to cut those costs? "There are several ways for transit agencies to prepare for and offset higher construction costs," says David Evans' Susie Younie.
"Among these are the following: (1) Shorten the project delivery period to minimize the effects of inflation on project costs. (2) Assess the risk of individual projects to higher construction costs. Are some elements more prone to uncertainty regarding materials' costs than others? (3) Review contractual documents including general conditions, special conditions and Division I specifi cations to identify and eliminate provisions which may unreasonably increase a contractor's risk and, therefore, the bid price of the job. (4) Plan procurement strategies to maximize competition. (5) If the availability of federal or local funding is artificially extending the duration of project construction, investigate fi nancing techniques, such as a letter of credit, to increase the agency's flexibility in funding a shorter construction cycle."