No one wants to waste resources, especially transportation organizations who are trying to accomplish as much as they can with what limited amounts of funding they receive. With that in mind, have you recently completed a large State of Good Repair project? If so, it might make sense to consider using any leftover money for technology upgrades. We have noticed that many agencies are still only using SGR for rolling stock and other large capital projects. However, the option is there to use these funds for more than that. We’ve also noticed a number of agencies taking advantage of their SGR funds to finance technology as either a part of an original award, or using underutilizing moneys from existing projects to fund technology, in-vehicle computers, etc. for example.
While the main focus of the funding program is for capital projects to replace, rehabilitate and purchase buses and related equipment, funds are also available for software and hardware technologies. For example, Transit Asset Management Systems, in-vehicle mobile data computers, on-board security systems, etc. As your fleet ages, it will be important that all vehicles remain complaint with new technologies as they become available. What’s the use of building towards automated fare collectors if your buses and your back office don’t have the technological infrastructure to support the future upgrade?
The FTA provides a useful webpage that describes the agencies that are involved with the SGR program and what they have included among the areas they have requested funding. You will see how many projects have included technology upgrades to smart faring, cameras, paratransit scheduling software, real-time passenger information, replacement of on-board computers, fixed route software and ITS systems. This should at least give you some insight into what options are available for your agency.
While it makes sense to use SGR funds to finance large projects, remember that it also makes sense to add on technology installations, replacement and upgrades into the plan. It may also be a good idea to find out what technologies exist that are eligible for transportation funding through SGR. Talk to a software solutions specialist to find out what add-on module or hardware peripheral can provide the greatest functionality in order to take full advantage of the funding you have available.
The moral of the story, as I have said before in this blog post, is to not let funds go to waste. This is especially true of money that has an expiration date. Don’t let your leftovers go bad.