Getting Started on Your TAM Plan

May 12, 2017
Getting your TAM Plan in place to meet the FTA's 2018 deadline has been a daunting task for many, but available resources can help get you on your way.

During the maintenance managers workshop at the American Public Transportation Association 2017 Bus and Paratransit Conference, agencies of all sizes shared how they were getting along with their Transit Asset Management (TAM) Plan. In July 2016, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued a final rule requiring transit agencies to maintain and document minimum TAM standards. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being a great plan and document in place to 1 being just barely starting the discussion, there were agencies from 1 to 8 on the scale, with the smaller agencies rating themselves on the lower end of the spectrum.

So if you don't have your plan in place, you're far from alone. At the roundtable discussion there were several challenges and best practices for everyone to learn from.

They all agreed if you’re the maintenance department and can take the leadership role, do it. you all are already doing this and, Big Blue Bus Chief Operations Officer Rolando Cruz said, “This is a gift.” Maintenance is really good at solving things but not talking about all that it does, tooting its own horn or articulating what its needs are. “This does that,” he stressed.

The first thing to do is to educate the board and executive team and keep that terminology out there. Institutionalizing the language and the acronyms was important Cruz said, referencing how they had done that at Dallas Area Rapid Transit and how it helps the entire agency be on the same page.

Also at the onset, have a conversation with your Federal Transit Administration representative and your MPO as they all have a role in this. There are a lot of questions and challenges that come up, so leveraging those relationships and relationships within the industry; share plans and talk to like-size properties.

If you’re early on in the process, some common challenges others have experienced:

  • What it is, what does it mean? The attendees agreed it’s easy as far as rolling stock goes, but it gets tricky with other assets; get clarification.
  • The TAM Plan touches the entire organization, so plan how to coordinate that.
  • There’s a tendency to make it more challenging than it needs to be. Cruz reminded attendees maintenance departments are already doing a lot of this.
  • There’s often “found” inventory when refreshing or validating your asset registry. When adding this found inventory, it was suggested to use the date 1/1/XX as the acquisition date as a “flag” date. Chances are, the agency has never actually acquired anything on the first of the year so whenever you see that, you know that was an estimate.

It can be a challenge to get underway, but there are peers and other resources to help. Resources from the FTA can be found at There you can find guidance, an Excel spreadsheet TAM plan template for small providers, as well as other tools and resources.