Intelligent Transit Asset Management
U.S. transit agencies have a wide variety of capital assets to maintain, including but not limited to buses, rail cars, guideways, stations, and other facilities and supporting systems. Transit agencies must modify, rehabilitate and replace (MRR) their existing physical assets to keep them in a state of good repair (SGR) and provide a consistent level of service. Absent adequate investment in existing assets, a transit agency may find its equipment becoming increasingly unreliable and difficult to maintain, and in extreme cases may suffer reductions in system reliability resulting in degraded transit service. In recent years, transit ridership has increased, but funds for rehabilitating and replacing existing assets remain tightly constrained further heightening the challenge that transit agencies face.
Transit asset management provides a set of tools and approaches for helping transit agencies manage their physical assets and achieve SGR. Specifically, asset management is concerned with using quality data to support decisions that will maintain, rehabilitate, and replace existing assets in a cost-effective way and minimize asset lifecycle costs. By implementing best practices in transit asset management, a transit agency can make investment decisions that reduce the costs over time of maintaining its system, freeing up funds where possible to help improve service.
- Create Inventory of Assets and Data
- Analyze Asset Conditions and Performance
- Define Asset Investment scenarios
- Finalize asset Investment scenarios
- Develop the Asset Management Plan
Lifecycle cost is the sum of the costs of an asset over the course of its life. The calculation of lifecycle costs always includes agency costs, costs borne by the owner and operator of the asset (typically a transit agency in the context of transit assets). These costs may include, but are not limited to: the cost of the purchase or construction of an asset; costs from performing maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation work over the asset’s life; and costs incurred in the event an asset fails prematurely. The calculation may include user costs, costs associated with the use of the asset. The determination of exactly what costs are included in the analysis depends in large part upon what options the decision maker is weighing. Lifecycle costs are often presented on an average annual basis to facilitate comparison between assets with different lives. Lifecycle costs are always calculated considering a discount rate, which captures the time value of money.
Asset life (or service life) is the estimated useful economic life of an asset, specified in terms of time (years) or some other unit (e.g., accumulated mileage). The remaining service life (RSL) is the difference between this life and the age of the asset. Note one can continue to maintain an asset even once it has reached its service life, but it is unlikely to be cost effective to do so.
Asset failure occurs when an asset unexpectedly ceases to provide its intended service. For revenue vehicles, a failure (also called road calls, in the case of buses) is defined using the National Transit Database (NTD) definition of “major mechanical failure,” which includes cases where the failure of a mechanical element of the vehicle prevents the vehicle from completing a scheduled revenue trip or starting the next scheduled revenue trip. For other assets, the term refers to the catastrophic failure of the asset requiring its replacement.
An optimal policy for an asset is a description of the set of actions to be taken to best achieve transit agency objectives. Typically the transit agency’s objective, with respect to an asset, is to minimize the lifecycle cost of purchasing and maintaining the asset. Ideally, the level of maintenance should also maintain or improve service levels and meet the public’s expectations. However, a transit agency may consider other factors that are difficult to incorporate in a lifecycle cost calculation, such as aesthetics, compliance with legal requirements, environmental concerns, and other factors. Strictly speaking, the policy for an asset should address when all maintenance, repair, rehabilitation, and replacement actions should be taken and how these will at least conceptually relate to the quality of the transit agency’s services. However, this document focuses on rehabilitation and replacement actions that may be included in a transit agency’s capital program.
Solution: Develop a Transit Asset Management Plan (TAMP)
Developing an asset management plan encompasses many of the basic steps in implementing an asset management approach. An asset management plan describes the physical assets that a transit agency owns and/or maintains, their existing condition, the strategy used for investing in those assets, the transit agency’s plan for future asset rehabilitation and replacement, and how assets relate to levels and the quality of services that agencies provide.
The process of building a TAM Plan is described in five steps. These are inventory assets and data, analyze asset conditions and performance, define investment scenarios, finalize investment scenarios, and develop the plan. The process is shown below as a 5-step approach.
In the first step, the process of evaluating and prioritizing rehabilitation and replacement work starts with collecting data on existing transit capital assets. Described at the very basic level: first, you need to know what you have (i.e., capital assets), and then you need to understand what you know about what you have (i.e., data).
In the second step, with data, performance measures, and targets in order, you are ready to put that information to work. In this step, you will first determine where you are today, and establish the assumptions needed to determine where you are headed. This will provide the foundation required to understand the implications of your prioritization and funding decisions that will be the meat of your TAMP.
In the third step, now that you have cataloged your asset inventory and conditions and have established an approach for predicting replacement needs, it is time to look into the future using machine learning algorithms. In this step, you will define a number of possible asset funding scenarios and get a view of how those look with respect to your performance measures. Each scenario will “tell a story” about what will happen to the transit agency’s assets, its level and quality of services, and to your system as a whole based on your funding and prioritization decisions.
Comparing alternative scenarios is a powerful tool for supporting investment decisions, particularly when a decision-maker must contend with significant uncertainty and investment objectives that are difficult to weigh against each other. The process of evaluating asset investment scenarios requires developing funding and prioritization assumptions, defining the scenarios, and simulating future conditions. The description focuses on asset replacement scenarios, but in practice, the approach can be extended to compare these investments to other transit agency investments, such as investments in new capacity.
At the end of this process, you will have a prioritization approach and some basic funding assumptions to guide you in project selection as well as three or more defined investment scenarios that provide an accurate picture of how key funding and policy decisions will impact your transit agency’s operations on the ground.
An example of projects showing their prioritization after processing them through an AI/ML model is shown below in Figure 3.
And a sample set of scenarios is shown below in Figure 4, which is the results from this step, and will be a set of predicted conditions and costs that will enable you to compare the scenarios against the current environment.
In the fourth step, the projected results for your chosen investment scenarios, you now have the opportunity to review the results and revise them to arrive at the best possible final scenario considering available funding. In this step you will revisit your asset lifecycle policy, prioritization approach, and funding assumptions; and select a preferred scenario. Your preferred scenario will be the one that you will take to your decision-makers, and, if approved, will be the version that is reflected in your TAMP.
In the fifth and final step, the process results in the development of your TAMP. If you are using one of our prioritization tools, this is the step where you integrate those outputs into a plan that your transit agency can implement. In step five you will make all final adjustments and decisions, and prepare your TAMP for official adoption by your agency.
What you get through ITAM
- The plan documents the results of the analysis in terms of what specific actions are recommended or planned
- Explain and show detailed analysis of why funds are needed for asset replacement
- How available funds should be distributed
- What the planned investments will accomplish.
- Forms an action plan and serves as a tool to support needed investments.
- ITAM helps agencies create an asset plan and prioritize projects considering objectives such as:
- Asset inventory
- Available data resources
- SGR: State of Good Repair
- Deterioration model
Asset management software is a priority across several industries. Government agencies, Corporations, and large organizations utilize the software to impact positive growth in the economy. ITAM platform has wide usability and the Kryssalis team ensures continued engagement with TRB researchers and data analysts to provide valuable real-time information to enhance intelligent decisions that will resonate into the future.