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

D.C. advocates call on Uber, Lyft to add wheelchair accessible vehicles

For months, Uber has been seeking agreements with a handful of D.C. cab companies to access the companies’ wheelchair-ready vans for use on the Uber Taxi platform. The cab companies, however, are not interested in working with Uber.

Utah's FLEX bus service touted by FTA

FLEX follows a fixed route, but will deviate up to three-quarters of a mile to pick up a limited number of riders who phone and make an appointment. The routes serve both the general public and the disabled, but anyone can request a deviation.

Interactive mapping can aid mobility planning for people with disabilities

Because these maps are interactive, users can input information — say, where sidewalks end or do not exist, or whether a restaurant bathroom is truly accessible — the same way drivers upload traffic information to a navigation app like Waze

Access to public transportation is key for returning military veterans with disability for reintegration success

Access to reliable transportation, particularly public transportation, is essential for returning military veterans with disabilities to reintegrate to civilian life and obtain critical medical and support services, according to a new Rutgers study.

CapMetro marks accessibility milestone with achievements

Agency was first in Texas to achieve 100% vehicle accessibility. Took delivery of its first lift-equipped buses in 1986.

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 resource for managers of class 1-7 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