Transit Technology Benefits Unmet

TTECOverview1Technologies applied in the transit industry still have lots of distance to cover in terms of reaching the benefits that they are supposed to bring. Breaking even is not on the radar where returns on the investments have yet to even be evaluated. Why are hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, of public funds being spent and recovery is not even measured? Why are business processes not streamlined ensuring an increase in efficiency? The answer to these questions is that the human requirements too often are ignored. The premise for ignoring this factor is the widespread notion that acquiring technology alone will solve the problems. The various intelligent transportation systems and other software tailored to transit offer massive returns, if and only if their capabilities are exploited by users who are not averse to computers and possess the savvy necessary to adapt. They are misconceived as total solutions or panaceas, rather than tools that will aid in the tasks that human beings will still have to do.

Working Harder, Not Smarter Impresses

While old habits can be hard to break, they can also impress superiors who are unaware of the necessity to change practices in order to realize the benefits of the technology they’ve incorporated into their business operations. Requiring users to take pencil and paper to log actions and fill reports should be unthinkable when a software application includes this function in its standard configuration. However, when staff can say they have ten items to check off versus five, it seems that they are truly working hard as a necessity as opposed to being inefficient.

Data Un-mined

The boy cried wolf and the people responded until they were fed up with his antics playing on their natural human traits to aid another in peril. Here we are in the twenty-first century and data is heaped in mounds that would surely reach Mount Everest if it were in physical form. core_table1The cry for data has been answered and yet it goes unmanaged, unkept and unused. Data is supposed to enable informed decisions once captured, collected, stored and retrieved but those first steps are constantly neglected. When the integrity of the data is compromised it directly affects the quality of the decisions. When the data is intact yet not factored into the decision-making process, gut feelings, personal desires and the like become the basis, leaving vast amounts of data to collect dust or become fossils within their respective environments.

Technology’s Purpose

Technology is supposed to make work easier and more efficient. It is supposed to increase output by performing calculations at exponential rates and gathering data that is practically impossible for humans to do. It guarantees that decisions can be made with confidence, shielding officials from any backlash. Absent an understanding and application of technology’s true role, advantages and disadvantages, an accumulation of wasted public funds will continue to grow. Ignoring the fact that man must mesh with machine will perpetuate the misconception that acquisition of machines and technology alone will solve the complex problems of modern transit.

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Monopoly Revisited by B & O

800-c1935_1509312a_Deed_RR-BO-FrBkWhen I play the board game Monopoly, one of my staunch objectives is to acquire all the railroads. Although having them doesn’t always guarantee that I’ll be the last man standing, having them satisfies my philosophical leanings and industrial interests. Today I discovered an old map of the real B & O and an old deed from the game. Rail transport of goods and people is experiencing a surge in support now that much of the surface infrastructure is exceeding capacity.

Proponents see the real benefits of rail and lobby their elected representatives to acknowledge those benefits. However, investments must be made with public involvement or else privatization will take the industry back to the 19th century when private individuals ran the show. Public-private partnerships are becoming more common across the U.S. ensuring that a level of public involvement is maintained and monopolies are prevented from happening again.

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Between Washington D.C. and Rockville (1890) image detail

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