Communication, information and responsibility distribution strategies for effective real-time transit service management
Author(s)Barker, David P. (David Prescott), 1975-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Nigel H.M. Wilson.
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Resolving disruptions is a continual challenge to providing quality, cost-effective transit service. While a number of recovery techniques exist to recover from disruptions, detecting a disruption, choosing a response and implementing it in a timely manner is a difficult task. Different agencies use different combinations of field supervision, centralized control, and traditional and advanced communication technology. While these different service management strategies have different results, there is no consensus on what makes a good strategy, nor a systematic method for evaluating a proposed strategy and predicting its strengths and weaknesses. The purpose of this thesis is to create a framework for studying bus service management strategies and draw general lessons from an application of that framework. This thesis categorizes 15 distinct disruptions in bus service, the most common responses to each, and the information and resources necessary both to reach a decision on the most appropriate response and to implement it. It introduces a spreadsheet model for starting with the number of disruptions an agency faces and its chain of command for dealing with them and calculating the number of conversations that take place and the demand those conversations put on communications channels. Values gathered from studying Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) supervisor radio recordings allow this model to show the unused capacity of communications channels, if any, so that the feasibility of a prospective strategy can be determined. This method of studying strategy is applied to CTA. It is found that CTA bus operations suffer from two bottlenecks. The control center relays delay reports too slowly for them to be useful, and the communications channels allotted to supervisors are less than they would be required to air all messages related to service restoration. As a result, street supervisors have few service restoration options available to respond to delays, and they lack the information needed to choose an option effectively. The net result is that minor delays typically go unaddressed until they deteriorate into major ones, and major delays impose greater cost on passengers than they should. The impact of adding handheld computers with real-time location information is studied, and it is found that this would let supervisors use a wider range of restoration techniques, allow them to choose the best technique more accurately, let them address minor delays before they become more serious and free the supervisory radio channels for more effective management of breakdowns, accidents and disturbances. It is concluded that there are inherent advantages in managing schedule adherence from the field and managing incidents from a control center, regardless of an agency's level of communication investment. It is further concluded that digital messaging has a natural strength in dealing with routine and well-understood instructions, while voice communication is essential for tasks that are less predictable or require collaboration. Digital messaging can play a substantial role in a good service management strategy but can never replace voice radio.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2002.Includes bibliographical references (p. 163-164).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Civil and Environmental Engineering.