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Implementing State of Good Repair, Transit Asset Management

As state of good repair (SGR) becomes increasingly important to rail transit operators, agencies are using FTA performance measures to develop Transit Asset Management (TAM) plans—a process discussed at a June 21 session by representatives of FTA and four public transit systems.

Michael McLaughlin, deputy chief of staff, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), said “grassroots advocacy from legacy systems” led to FTA’s 2009 report stating that the legacy agencies jointly had a $50 billion infrastructure backlog. That report led to increased SGR funding and FTA technical assistance for TAM and was followed by SGR provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, MAP-21 and the FAST Act.

McLaughlin added that CTA began the TAM process in 1992.

Robert J. Tuccillo, FTA associate administrator for budget and policy, defined TAM as “a business model that uses the condition of assets to guide the optimal prioritization in achieving SGR.” Under SGR, he said, an asset operates at its full level of performance. The TAM process includes development of a plan—agencies with fewer than 100 buses and no rail in their fleets can participate in a group plan—and setting annual targets for asset classes. Agencies have to report their results annually to the National Transit Database, he added.

Mike Nabhan, asset management administrator/report developer for Denver’s Regional Transportation District, said a TAM administrator “must know what’s being measured and understand how to use the data.” For example, an internal maintenance analysis can show whether an agency is making repairs before the asset breaks down.

Steve Meyer, chief capital development officer, Utah Transit Authority, also said TAM is a tool to identify problems before failure occurs, similar to preventing a fire rather than fighting one. “Be sure to check root causes,” he said. “Dealing with them might be simpler and cheaper than waiting and dealing with more serious issues.”

Bernadette Lambert, program manager for the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District’s Silicon Valley Extension, said agencies must consult a property rights expert when working on an existing right-of-way. Agencies that don’t secure the rights up front, she said, may face construction delays and possible lawsuits and could lose funding for the project.
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