What approach to take?

Themes: Analysis of Needs; identification of necessary functions; is ITS required?

Analysing Needs and finding suitable Solutions

This is a key link stage in which the context and scope of the ITS are set, as well as its connection and relevance to the business solutions of the organisation. It is essential that all relevant stakeholders are actively involved.

Defining High-Level Requirements 

Needs define the high-level requirements which respond to the problems/opportunities, e.g.

  • Achieve internally-set service/quality targets
  • Achieve service/quality targets set in a contract with transport authority, e.g.
    • Operate target level of trips or vehicle-km
    • On-time operation or planned headway
  • Achieve higher operating speed
  • Reduce variability of journey times
  • Maintain effective service during planned, unforeseen events
  • Support real-time applications, e.g.:
    • Fare collection systems, signal priority
  • Support off-line/back-office systems, e.g.:
    • route planning, scheduling, maintenance, fuel, performance monitoring, MIS,
  • Minimise accidents and unsafe driving
  • Provide travel information to passengers
  • other high-level requirements as defined for the specific location

Identifying Potential Solutions

Solutions are the approaches the organisation(s) can take to meet their Requirements. The Solutions are typically at organisational, operational or customer services level. They are more concerned with “what should we do?” than the fine details or methods. They do not yet consider the ITS or other technologies, other than as an enabler.

Solutions would be tactical at this stage, e.g.:

  • Establish an effective Operations Management capability
  • Establish the ability to manage departure times from terminals, and to maintain headways along the route
  • Develop links with other agencies to have earliest knowledge of planned and unplanned disruptions/events
  • Develop standard ‘fall-back’ strategies for the types of disruption that are known to occur, and the ability to improvise for unexpected, irregular occurrences
  • Provide real-time information to passengers both before their trip and during their trip (at stop, in-vehicle)
  • Gather information automatically from various systems for direct input to other systems
  • Extend customer services (e.g. ticketing) beyond the core urban area to the adjacent districts
  • Standardise or harmonise systems of different operators or different districts for interoperability, integration and efficiency

Functional Identification would then emerge from the (possible) solutions.

Preparing for the next steps

At this stage, the initial scope of the ITS analysis would be refined. This would identify the organisational and functional areas to be covered by the ITS analysis/study.

However, this does not imply that ITS applications/technologies will automatically be extended to all identified functions within the scope. In fact, It is always worthwhile considering whether an effective Solution could be implemented without ITS. This will help to clarify whether the ITS is really needed. In some cases, the analysis may actually show that some functions are better achieved by methods other than ITS. For example, issuing hand-held radios to inspectors and adjusting their operating procedures might be sufficient to solve problems of irregular dispatching.

This now provides a framework to guide the subsequent stages. It can provide the initial part of any brief to Consultants.

More importantly, it provides a framework for discussion and consensus forming among and within the stakeholders. It also provides a reference point for alignment with other initiatives.