Mass Transit - 17

termine what our new service
would look like."
It was determined that the old
spoke-and-hub system would be
replaced with a true grid system
that Washington says allowed
for SporTran to build additional
hubs. Those hubs included the
SporTran Intermodal Terminal,
which incorporated rider amenities and bays for Greyhound and
Amtrak, and the Southwest Transit Hub. The new service brought
additional vehicles online to the
network during peak hours, increased day and night services,
added a downtown circulator
service and improved efficiency
and connectivity.
Despite SporTran's best efforts, Washington says the initial
rider reaction to the relaunched
system and hub openings in November 2017 was not positive. He
explained the reaction wasn't a
complete surprise given riders
were put through a lot of change
at once. SporTran staff worked
closely with the community and
riders during the first six months
following the relaunch to train
customers on how to use the new
network. Now, more than two
years after the new system came
online, what do riders think?
"If I tried to take some of the
riders back to the old system,
they would probably hate me,"
said Washington.

The "charge" of a
good challenge

Implementing a redesigned and
completely rethought network
can be enough of a challenge for
many systems, but SporTran also
became the first transit agency in
Louisiana to launch battery-electric buses. In keeping with the
ambitious nature of SporTran
and Washington's approach to
business, those buses were introduced on the same day as the
new network and hub openings.
"It was a challenge," said
Washington. "But we're always up
for a challenge. We changed every

route in the city after 25 years, we
opened three new facilities and
introduced battery-electric buses
all at the same time. If we can do
that, we can do anything."
The plan to redesign the network was well underway when
SporTran was awarded federal
funds to procure battery-electric
buses. SporTran utilized a consultant, Center for Transportation Excellence, that performed
route following to suggest the
best routes on the new network
to place the five Proterra E2 buses, as well as when and where the
buses should be recharged.
Another partner in the successful deployment of the electric
buses was SporTran's power utility Southwestern Electric Power
Company (SWEPCO). Washington says SWEPCO studied
the entire system from where
SporTran wanted to station the
buses to where the agency wanted
charging infrastructure and provided feedback regarding when
to charge the buses, which transformer to use and which meter to
put the buses on.
"[SWEPCO] was very helpful because they convinced us
to put the vehicles on our main
office, which most of the time,
is powered from eight to five in
the daytime. At nighttime, a lot
of things are shut down in the
building," explained Washington.
"[SWEPCO] was able to connect
our electric buses to our main
office circuit [to charge at night]
so that our building and average
chargers are actually meeting
what we would have seen if we
had built a whole new circuit."
In October 2019, SporTran
was awarded a state grant with
matching funds from SWEPCO
to install an overhead fast charger and supporting infrastructure. The E2 models have fast
charging capabilities and will
be able to recharge to about 75
percent in under 10 minutes.
In addition to being first in
the state, SporTran has the larg-


lot of
things, the
majority of
things, were
done on
paper and the
system has
progressed to
become more
officer of

est transit fleet of electric buses
in Louisiana and Washington
has been working with peer
agencies in Baton Rouge and Lafayette to share SporTran's experience and help others find their
way along their battery-electric
bus journey.
Another part of SporTran's
evolution required a shift of
thinking and organization to
integrate a focus on planning.
Washington explains that
SporTran's transportation department included both safety
and planning responsibilities, but
he wanted to establish a dedicated planning department to allow
the agency to better self-manage.
While he notes it can be unusual
for a small to medium agency to
have a dedicated planning department, he says the advantages of
the restructure have paid off.
For one, the planning department provides an agnostic set
of eyes to data when evaluating
what element in the system is
or is not working and providing
suggestions of how to remedy it.
Washington says this is helpful
for when SporTran takes a case to
city leaders or the agency's board
and can provide data and trends
to help make that case.
To keep the SporTran staff
in a planning-focused mindset,
the entire operations department
gathers once a month for a discussion. Washington believes
these monthly meetings have
changed culture at SporTran for
the better, bolstered understanding throughout the organization
and enhanced the staff's insight
into what they can deliver.

Quality technology

One of goals of the Move Northwest Louisiana Forward plan was
to develop and empower technology that provides benefits to SporTran's customers and employees.
"One of the weaknesses that I
think we had was really providing that technology [such as] the
Where-is-My-Bus-type systems
FEBRUARY 2020 | | Mass Transit |


Mass Transit

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Mass Transit

Ad Index
Editor's Notebook: What's the Secret to Quality Leadership?
People & Places
NRC Chairman's Column
SporTran's Bold Vision for Northwest Louisiana Transit
2020 Mobility Outlook
Investing in a Peace of Mind
Combatting Distracted Communities to Boost Rail Safety
Modernizing the Message
Social Hubs
Mass Transit - 1
Mass Transit - 2
Mass Transit - 3
Mass Transit - 4
Mass Transit - 5
Mass Transit - Ad Index
Mass Transit - 7
Mass Transit - Editor's Notebook: What's the Secret to Quality Leadership?
Mass Transit - 9
Mass Transit - People & Places
Mass Transit - 11
Mass Transit - NRC Chairman's Column
Mass Transit - 13
Mass Transit - SporTran's Bold Vision for Northwest Louisiana Transit
Mass Transit - 15
Mass Transit - 16
Mass Transit - 17
Mass Transit - 18
Mass Transit - 19
Mass Transit - 2020 Mobility Outlook
Mass Transit - 21
Mass Transit - 22
Mass Transit - 23
Mass Transit - Investing in a Peace of Mind
Mass Transit - 25
Mass Transit - 26
Mass Transit - 27
Mass Transit - Combatting Distracted Communities to Boost Rail Safety
Mass Transit - 29
Mass Transit - 30
Mass Transit - 31
Mass Transit - Modernizing the Message
Mass Transit - 33
Mass Transit - 34
Mass Transit - 35
Mass Transit - Products
Mass Transit - 37
Mass Transit - Social Hubs
Mass Transit - 39
Mass Transit - 40