As a best practice, your transit technology should be upgraded every two years (no more than two years behind on upgrades). But do you maintain that?
What we’ve heard from the hundreds of North American transit agencies is that they’re not always sure what to expect during an upgrade, and therefore, may push it off, even when the upgrade is included as part of a negotiated maintenance contract.
In this article, we’re debunking the biggest upgrade myths we hear – starting off with Intelligent Transportation Systems.
Myth #1: Upgrades always take a year to complete
Fact: ITS (our TransitMaster upgrade) is one of the faster products to upgrade. You can expect the upgrade to take 60-90 days, from kick off to completion.
Myth #2: It doesn’t matter if you upgrade every two years. Doing it every three, four years is as good.
Fact: Unfortunately, that’s not true. Upgrading your ITS technology every two years consistently makes the upgrade process smoother. The more disparate the versions, the upgrade may take longer.
When you don’t upgrade you miss out on the advantages of new features, functionalities, and bug fixes. You miss out on the software improvements that have been built-in based on industry feedback from your peers. You may lose integration with other back-office products and experience incompatibility issues with back-office products. Depending on the age of the software, you may also need to upgrade your operating systems and databases if you’re too far behind. The further you are off the current release, the more training is required, since user interfaces may completely change on new versions. Instead of adapting to a few changes for each release, suddenly you’re 10 releases behind and now have to train staff on hundreds of new changes.
Finally, once you are multiple versions behind, data migration becomes more complicated and at risk.
Myth #3: I won’t be able to test my agency’s unique environment during an upgrade, so why bother?
Fact: When you give notice that you want to upgrade ITS, that’s when we build a test environment to be representative of what your agency has. First, we get a copy of your database so we can perform in-house project engineering validation. Second, we create an installation of your system in a virtual environment to facilitate testing and training. A lot of agencies also have very specific features and functionalities that they use. Not all agencies use the same fareboxes, signage, TSP, etc. so by testing in your same environment, we make sure that everything works specifically for what you need.
Stay tuned for the next piece in this series to learn more about the key to successful transit implementations and upgrades.
John Cain is the Industry Solutions Manager - Intelligent Transportation Systems for Trapeze Group. He has over 20 years of experience working with transit agencies across North America and works out of Trapeze's Cedar Rapids, Iowa office.