Keeping a schedule
As with all projects of this magnitude, it is not a surprise to encounter some delay during the implementation process. This project encountered two major ones. The first was due to the style of radio that was currently being used by WT. The vendor was able to discover the cause of the problems and quickly formulated a solution so that could have put this project several months behind schedule, resulted in less than a one-month delay.
Second, following the time the project had been awarded, the IT department for the city of Wichita had begun to work with a primary software company for IVR services. Avail was asked to assess the software program and see if it was compatible with the new ITS system. After reviewing the product, it was determined that the IVR software could be developed to become compatible with the transit system. Some delay occurred while the IVR-based company reworked its product and process to become compliant with WT's new system. Based on these two unforeseen delays, the project had to adjust the schedule for less than a two-month delay.
Expect for the way you operate to change
The change within the daily operations of WT has been immense. Any time an agency moves from a manual count system to an electronically generated database; there will be several divisions within a transit agency that will have access to data that will make the efficiency of their functions much easier to perform. The availability of real-time and accurate data associated with a new set of report generation concerning all facets of ridership will be a huge boost for our transit services.
Moving to utilizing the integrated ITS system has permitted WT to have access to real-time data and complete those previous functions in a much more efficient manner. As an example, the data produced by the on/off counts for the fixed-route service will prove to be invaluable in the planning efforts of any changes on existing routes or implementation of future routes.
Educate your shareholders and your riders
Since WT is currently in the "acceptance stage" of the project, the public has not been made fully aware of the changes being made to the transit system. Following acceptance of the system, WT will be implementing a marketing campaign to introduce the riders to the new system. Once the marketing campaign is released, WT expects to see a significant boost to its ridership numbers. With the real-time delivery of vehicle location information through message signs, Web services and an IVR system, riders will be able to create their own trips and feel empowered to use the system.
It can be a bit scary to acquire a project of this magnitude, but the key is to mitigate your risk. Create an internal plan for growth with the right team. Think about where you would like to be in five, 10 and 20 years as a transit system. Consider your shareholders, your riders. Be selective and ask for what you want. Choose the right vendor to partner with on the project. Do your research and work with your transit peers. Following these basic project management tenets should lead you to a successful implementation in any of your future projects.