October 25, 2010
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|MORE FROM THE 2010 APTA ANNUAL MEETING
Working to Implement a State of Good Repair
BY LYNNE T. DEAN, Special to Passenger Transport
Public transportation systems addressing their state of good repair (SGR) needs and matching these policy decisions with a financial commitment can reap important benefits, speakers from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), AECOM, and Halcrow told attendees at a session of the APTA Annual Meeting.
Panelists presented strategies, priorities, and alternative approaches to attain and then maintain SGR. Onala (Tony) M. Atala, associate vice president, system safety and security, for AECOM in Newark, NJ, moderated the session.
Atala said only 30 percent of U.S. public transit systems have reached a state of good repair or better, citing a July 2009 FTA roundtable discussion on the topic. That, he explained, represents the initial challenge: “We have an infrastructure problem in the U.S. that requires $80 billion to catch up, and an estimated $16 billion will be needed annually for the next 20 years [2008 dollars] to achieve and maintain SGR.”
Sean G. Libberton, associate administrator of FTA’s Office of Program Management, listed key issues under review and study through the State of Good Repair Initiative as the form and function of asset management systems; a definition of SGR; financial assistance; and technical assistance. FTA recently funded 152 projects totaling $776 million through its SGR Bus Discretionary Program Awards, he noted, and is working on a Senate-funded report on national and international Transit Asset Management (TAM) best practices slated for presentation to Congress by June 16, 2011.
The current FTA Working Group definition of SGR states: “A transit asset is in a State of Good Repair if its weighted rating score based on four attributes is greater than or equal to 2.5, where the lowest score equals 1 and the highest equals 5.” Attributes include age of the asset relative to its design/useful life, asset condition as determined through field inspections or otherwise (e.g., visible defects, component deterioration), asset performance (e.g., service reliability, customer comforts, safety, meets current industry standards), and backlog of maintenance/deferred maintenance.
Atala stressed that transit agencies must have effective TAM systems in place. Such systems address quality asset data on conditions, needs, progress, and risks; required service and performance levels; critical assets to sustained performance; and decision support tools such as “what if?” analysis. These systems, he explained, also monitor and forecast backlog; provide the best long-term investment mix for customers; and offer an optimal mix of preservation, expansion, and safety investment strategies through cost-benefit analysis.
Yoav Arkin, senior program director, system safety and assurance, with AECOM in Baltimore, noted the integration of Reliability, Availability, Maintainability and Safety (RAMS) as one approach to enhancing SGR.
The benefits of reliability, according to Arkin, include longer equipment operating (“up”) time between failures; improved on-time performance, system availability, and dependability; reduced corrective (unscheduled) maintenance; reduced preventive (scheduled) maintenance; and reduced life cycle operation and maintenance costs.
Using formulas and algorithms, he outlined the impact of availability, maintainability, and safety factors on SGR and concluded by recommending that RAMS requirements be prioritized in contract specifications related to assets.
William Mooney, vice president, high-speed rail, for Halcrow, based in Chicago, reported on training available from the National Transit Institute (NTI). The objectives of NTI’s transit asset management course include defining transit asset management and presenting basic principles; identifying the benefits of transit asset management; and describing FTA policies for asset protection. The course also outlines a process for establishing key performance indicators and introduces strategies to proactively develop and implement an asset management program.