Ohio - Sandusky Transit System computer shuts down from Y2k bug

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Millennium bug puts crimp in Sandusky Transit schedule

Monday, January 3, 2000

SANDUSKY -- While most of the Firelands area apparently sailed through the new year free of computer-related problems, the Y2K bug last week forced the scheduling equipment for the Sandusky Transit System to shut down.

Until new equipment arrives, dispatchers for the area's only public transportation system are manually entering route numbers and schedules for each of the 350-400 trips made each day. The system was shut down Dec. 22 or 23, and may not be replaced for several weeks.

"They're kind of crippled because they can't look in the old computer," said Carrie Smith, transit administrator for STS.

The problems started when dispatchers created the schedule for Dec. 31, Smith said. Routes that are normally assigned one identification number suddenly had as many as 7,000 numbers, and others didn't show up at all.

The system's 14 buses, vans and cars are still making trips throughout Erie County, and residents are still getting the rides they count on to get to work, shop or visit friends, said Don Ballah, executive director of STS and director of North Central EMS, which runs the service.

Ballah said dispatchers are frustrated at having to spend up to three times as many hours to create schedules for drivers. Smith created a spreadsheet for them, and they are entering the numbers by hand.

"It has been a hindrance, and I suppose the system could be more efficient," Ballah said. "It's inconvenient, but it's not affecting the service that's provided."

The City of Sandusky funds the STS service, and Erie County pays it a fee for every ride outside the city limits. The city commissioners on Oct. 14 awarded a contract to Phoenix, Ariz.-based Trapeze Software for a new $59,000 scheduling system. The hardware for the new system is in place, but Sandusky Law Director Don Icsman said he delayed signing the contract for the software because of legal concerns. Icsman said he received the actual contract about 30 days ago. He said the city is working on a plan that would narrow the amount of time between when bids are awarded and contracts are signed.

"There's a myriad of problems with the contract in its current form," Icsman said. "We don't have a lot of recourse in terms of any failure on their part to perform the contract."

Icsman said he was not aware of the failure of the STS computer system. Ballah said he expected the system wouldn't work after Dec. 31, and the only result so far has been more hours of work for the dispatchers. The old system, called LifeTrax, was built by a company that has since gone out of business.

Source: By ALEX DAVIS, Staff Writer; Sandusky Register Online; Sandusky, Ohio


-- Lee Maloney (leemaloney@hotmail.com), January 21, 2000

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