Accessibility

Technology's impact has multiple dimensions and challenges

Posted on January 8, 2009 by Frank Di Giacomo, Publisher

Anyone who has observed this industry even half as long as I must be struck by the radical changes that have taken place in public transportation. Thanks to advances both inside and outside this industry, people with a simple Blackberry or other handheld device now can look up when their bus or train will arrive at their station or stop. Those who work on this equipment can also run a diagnostic program and check the status of systems on these buses or trains. The result is a much more reliable fleet and savings of thousands of staff hours annually.

Series of challenges
But, technology presents a series of challenges as well. Perhaps the most important of these is agency staff keeping up with the training necessary to understand how to get the most out of these innovations, and what to do if something goes wrong. Of course, this training can often be provided by the equipment supplier as part of the procurement contracts, but the time to take the training is a cost that must be borne by the agencies, which is considered to be an operating expense. Funds to cover these expenses compete with other operating needs such as rising fuel prices and healthcare costs.

Technology has challenges to the private sector side of the industry as well. Expertise to provide the above-mentioned training or even to design and manufacture sophisticated technology is becoming harder to hire, as there is a growing shortage of engineers and other technical talent. Much of this talent is competed for by other industries with deeper pockets.

Meet growing demand
As we look to expand the industry and procure new equipment to meet the growing demand for public transportation, governments and agencies must fund the talent side of our growing need. Both the stimulus bills and authorization legislation that Congress is considering this year must fund the staff recruitment, retention and training needed by our industry to keep up with the technology.

This must begin with funding training as a legitimate capital expense, eligible for federal funding. Ideally, provisions of this legislation should include funding for training and workforce development, not just allowing existing funds to be spent on these needs.

The promise of technology allows public transportation to do things unimaginable even a few years ago. But that’s just the point: because they were not imagined, our programs have not kept pace with such rapid change. It’s time to correct this, because the challenges will only get greater.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Mismanagement, service failures cited in N.Y. MTA paratransit audit

Tens of thousands of New Yorkers left stranded; 2.5 million pick-up and drop-off times may have been manipulated to show more favorable performance and less than 50% of one car service’s trips were on-time, according to the New York City Comptroller audit.

Laketran buys 12 paratransit vehicles to meet Dial-a-Ride demand

The new buses are equipped with a wheelchair lift, fold-up seats to accommodate up to four wheelchairs, slip-resistant flooring, an electronic transit door, and a central heating and cooling unit.

Uber to launch ADA-friendly service in Chicago

The new rides, offered through a two-tiered product called UberAccess, will let customers request wheelchair-accessible vehicles or rides helmed by drivers with special training.

Valley Metro, regional paratransit providers do away with transfers

Peoria's acting public works and utility director said for residents a trip that now take two hours to get into Phoenix will drop to about a half hour.

Translink CEO addresses fare gate accessibility concerns

Attendants are meant to be present at accessible transit stations at all times to help any passengers who are unable to physically tap their Compass cards at the gate themselves.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)



More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close