IBM recently issued multiple press releases discussing the use of Maximo with several key public transit systems in North America. These included Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) and Washington Metropolitan Area Mass Transit Authority (WMATA). Here are the links to these press releases.
- IBM and the Long Island Rail Road Improve Commuter Experience
- The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Uses IBM Technology to Improve Safety and Reliability
- Washington Metro Uses IBM Software to Keep Mass Transit System Safe and On Time
In particular, the press release with LIRR talked about improving the commuter experience, but all of the press releases had a relationship to the commuter experience, or as I like to call it, "passenger experience".
I recently had the opportunity to speak to several rail organizations at a rail event at the IBM Industry Solution Center in La Gaude, France. Like the press releases, the topic was the passenger experience and how asset management plays a greater role for a metro or other passenger rail system, as opposed to other travel modes such as flying.
When traveling by air it is a bit challenging even for a seasoned traveler. Getting the ticket, choosing a seat, checking in, getting through security, finding the gate, choosing to get food before boarding, etc. are all things we have to deal with before we sit down in our seat. Then there are delays. We have come to expect delays as a regular part of air travel, especially when weather is the culprit. Because getting on the aircraft is frequently challenging, airlines and airports have worked to smooth the process with online ticket purchases, choosing seats and checking in online, kiosks at airports, along with advising what will be served on the plane. These benefits are all focused on the passenger experience, but have little to do with asset management.
On the other hand, traveling on a metro system tends to have much to do with asset management. The process of getting to the train often involves a lot of unconscious type activity. While a regular air traveler will still struggle at the destination airport, the metro rider can usually move quickly through the ticket process and fare gate systems to the departure platform, often only needing to verify which platform is correct.
I feel its when the passenger is on the platform, then on the train, that their "passenger experience" can have its greatest impact. Is the train on time? If it should be a 10 car train, did only 8 cars arrive? Once on the train, is there an in service delay? All of these items can affect the passenger's experience, and can be heavily impacted by the asset management systems. Many metro systems have studied the affect of things like a short train (8 or 9 cars, when 10 should have arrived). The impact is not seen that day. The passengers are already on the platform, so they squeeze in or wait for the next train. However, for the next few days there is often a drop in revenue as this event is a "tipping point" as some passengers will finally be fed up with the metro experience and go back to driving. After a few days of dealing with traffic and parking challenges they will return to the metro, but the transit system has lost revenue during this time.
A good asset management system will improve preventive maintenance, often increasing reliability and availability. We have seen this occur in many of our IBM Maximo clients. Greater availability means that all 10 cars arrive as planned. Greater reliability means the cars don't break down in service as frequently, reducing or eliminating in service delays to that train or the others behind it. It also means the track, signals and structures are being maintained properly so they don't cause delays either. An IBM Maximo client I've mentioned in the past, Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp. (THSRC), was able to achieve over 99% on time performance - and that is within a six second window to the posted schedule! In comparison, most US and European metro systems use two to three minutes to measure their on time performance.
So, if you are a metro system like those at BART, LIRR or WMATA, or a high speed rail system like THSRC, and you have challenges achieving high availability and reliability of your assets, you might consider a review of your Enterprise Asset Management system.