Ever wondered exactly how ITS technology works on a vehicle to improve fixed-route transit operations? Here is a short, animated demo that clearly demonstrates how an ITS solution works on a bus, and how it benefits drivers and passengers. The demo shows you how ITS technology streamlines and automates a driver’s daily tasks, and keeps drivers informed of their on-time performance. It also demonstrates how an ITS solution can integrate with on-board devices, such as an Automatic Passenger Counter (APC) and a voice annunciator, to further improve service.
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) estimates that riding public transit instead of driving saves people an average of $9,381 annually, or $782 per month, according to their most recent Transit Savings Report.
Also included in the report is a ranking of the top 20 cities in America with the highest transit ridership in order of their transit savings. According to APTA, the report demonstrates how an individual in a 2-person household can save money and reduce their carbon footprint by using public transportation.
Click here to read more about how public transit can save you money.
Interested in improving your agency’s transit technology but don’t know where to get funding? The Alberta government has recently allotted $2 billion to the Green Transit Initiatives Program (GreenTRIP) to improve transit across the province. If you operate a transit system in Alberta, Canada you are eligible to apply for this money.
Inter-County Public Transportation Authority (ICPTA) schedules more than 470 trips per day for paratransit customers within Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden and Currituck counties. Located in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, ICPTA implemented their Paratransit ITS Solution in July 2009. Herb Mullen, Director of ICPTA, shared some of the improvements his agency has seen since the implementation.
1. Were there drawbacks to the manual processes you were using before the ITS system?
A major drawback was man power. The only tools we had to manage routes were communicating with our drivers over the radio, randomly following them, or reviewing their manifest after they turned it in the next day. We had no efficient means of monitoring our drivers in real-time. The major draw back to the radio system was the overabundance of information that was being communicated between drivers and the office. We had drivers and the office talking over each other during busy times of the day; which made it difficult to ensure all communication concerning pick-ups, drop-offs, and route changes were being received by our staff. Implementing the Mentor Rangers solved this problem. Now dispatchers can shoot drivers the information and they can confirm they got it instantly. We don’t have to wonder if they got it, we know they got it. We can now manipulate and move trips around the driver’s manifest without having to involve the drivers, which is nice! It seems we’ve always had a few drivers that would avoid volunteering to assist others if there was a route delay and we’ve always had a few that would over extend themselves trying to assist others with their routes which could cause them to fall behind. Now the decision is made in our dispatch office by looking at our entire operation in real-time. This global, real-time view allows dispatch to evenly disperse trips to drivers throughout the day which improves route efficiency and customer satisfaction.
2. Have you seen a change in how dispatchers and drivers communicate?
Everything is more efficient. For example, before when dispatchers called a trip out to a driver they would announce, “The driver with John Doe, please pick him up at the hospital,” and hope that that driver heard it. That driver may have been on a bathroom break, assisting a client, or unable to hear the call because of other conversation occurring on the radio system. Dispatch would listen for the driver to respond with a 10-4, but they had no real way of knowing if the driver they intended to receive the radio transmission got it or if the 10-4 they heard was in response to another radio communication that could not be heard by dispatch. Now dispatchers send trips directly to the Ranger and the drivers acknowledge they received the trip instantly, which is a real time saver and a real frustration killer.
3. Has the new system affected customer service?
That aspect of the system has been wonderful. Before we would have to put the clients on hold and ask the drivers for an ETA. Now, with the Rangers, dispatchers can use the AVL feature to actually pull up a map of the service area and look to see where the vehicle is. The dispatcher can then say with accuracy,”they are two miles from your house,” or wherever they may be.
4. Where have you seen the most changes in your operation?
Improved communication and decision making. You don’t wonder who’s doing what or where they are. You can look and see where every vehicle is, who’s on board, and how fast they are going. Communication in this business is everything, if we ever get even a minor breakdown in it everything goes to pieces. The Rangers have definitely improved communication and route efficiency. We now have all of the information that used to take days to compile right in front of us in real-time, which equates to the following: better information to make better decisions that enable increased efficiency and, ultimately, improved customer satisfaction.
As part of North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority’s series on “Transportation and Technology,” a symposium entitled “Social Media in the Transportation Industry: Implications for Change” was held on July 27, 2010. If you would like to hear/view the presentations from this event, they are available through NJTPA’s website here.
As transportation affects people’s lives every day, the open transit data debate continues to be a relevant issue. Streetfilms has put together a great, comprehensive short video exploring some of the small-scale and wider benefits of opening transit data.
The video shows how the Massachusetts DOT and New York MTA are giving their riders better information and making their transit experience more convenient, all at no cost for the agencies.
Streetfilms touches on a benefit of opening transit data that may not be obvious: how open data can help make streets safer. Also up for discussion in the video are steps which can be taken that will allow individuals and private companies to deliver additional services to the public as a result of opening transit data, and the role of government in this space.
This short film does a good job of highlighting many of the most tangible benefits of opening transit data, as well as demonstrating how open transit data relates to and influences larger social issues.
It’s a well-known fact that as technology evolves and hardware capabilities improve, prices drop. This is why consumer electronics like home computers depreciate in value so quickly.
Unlike consumer electronics, because fleet-based technologies are not available for public consumption, they have a much longer shelf-life and retain their value well beyond their everyday counterparts. But mobile computers benefit from improving hardware just as much as the home market and an article on Field Technologies Online.com outlines this.
As Brian Albright writes, “Systems now have a greater capability to collect telemetry and other data from the vehicle, and thanks to increased bandwidth from wireless carriers, in-vehicle computer systems with 3G capabilities can also support richer applications.”
For more information on how improving hardware will provide new functionalities for in-vehicle mobile computers, view the entire article here.
Click here to read about Mentor Ranger’s versatile functionalities.
A blog for those of us who live and work in fleet management. Topics include engine diagnostics, driver safety, mobile workforce management, CAD/AVL, vehicle maintenance, truck distribution, global computing, work order management, and field services.
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