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Hortonworks Customer

Metro Transit of St. Louis

Everything is very positive and I am really excited about how we move forward from here. This solution will give us a lot of tools to analyze data and look at things differently than what we were doing before. This really changes everything.

- Darren Curry, Chief Mechanical Officer

cloud Metro Transit Case Study

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Metro Transit of St. Louis (MTL) operates the public transportation system for the St. Louis metropolitan region. The organization’s mission is “Meeting the region’s transit needs by providing safe, reliable, accessible, customer-focused service in a fiscally responsible manner.

Business Challenge

To ensure the safety of passengers and the proper use of public funds, MTL has always performed regular maintenance on its bus fleet. But lacking detailed data on how bus components were actually performing, the agency maintained vehicles reactively. It replaced parts after they failed, or simply bought new buses.

This supported MTL’s objective of assuring the safety of its passengers and the reliability of its service, but the team suspected that it often replaced parts or discarded entire buses even when replacement wasn’t necessary. A lack of ongoing, reliable machine data from its buses forced a tradeoff between the two parts of MTL’s mission of being “safe, reliable and accessible,” as well as “fiscally responsible.”

Solution

MTL decided to address that conflict by building a proactive bus maintenance program, and in 2002 the city developed the “K Plan” to consolidate its various maintenance divisions. Prior to 2002, each division reported to a different facility.

The specific goals of this K Plan consolidation included:
• Reduced maintenance time for buses
• Accurate predictions for the life spans of different components
• Accurate inventories of required parts to have on hand when needed
• Balanced maintenance workloads so that buses could come in
• for maintenance at preset, predictable intervals
• Reduced costs for parts and labor

To meet the goals of the K Plan, the MTL developed a new “Smart Bus”. The Smart Bus generates machine data as it operates. That data helps the Smart Bus predict and schedule its own maintenance work. After other Smart Bus approaches stalled, MTL chose to partner with LHP Telematics (LHPT) and Hortonworks to enhance their maintenance program and bring the Smart Bus idea to fruition.

MTL currently leverages the existing electronics on a bus as well as data from all of the main bus subsystems. The data is compressed, transferred into the LHPT backend system, and then stored on Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP®).

Results

With a process to recognize recurring patterns among the day-to-day driving events, MTL is able to better predict when a component on a particular bus will fail, which allows them to proactively service the bus and avoid having to take it out of service for a prolonged period due to unscheduled maintenance events.

Access to machine data brings three important benefits to MTL:
1. It allows them to make the best business decisions possible
2. It reduces their operating and labor costs
3. It improves safety for their customers

MTL soon realized that they could run the buses for much longer, thereby increasing their return on investment in their fleet. Previously, buses were being retired after 35,000 miles per year at 12 years and currently MTL is able to continue using the buses up to 60,000 to 70,000 miles per year at 15 years. This is a 2x improvement on mileage and 30% increase in bus lifespan.

MTL was able to cut its original operating, maintenance and fuel costs by 50%. With the newer solution from LHPT and Hortonworks on the Smart Bus, operating costs have decreased from 92 cents per mile to 43 cents per mile,

The K Plan and Smart Bus have not only enhanced MTL’s maintenance program, they have changed the way MTL does business.