New technologies are a priority at Broward County Mass Transit Division (BCT). During the 1990s, BCT began investing in Advanced Public Transportation Systems (APTS) projects to enhance fleet management and service performance. APTS are the transit components of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). It helps BCT to meet a Broward County Commission goal of creating a sense of place; achieved by establishing a more pedestrian/public transportation friendly environment. APTS are important to integrating transit into the many communities that comprise Broward County. In addition, BCT is implementing and planning for a future that not only has efficient and effective public transportation, but also enhances the passenger experience.
The vision for the APTS program is to ensure seamless integration with internal and regional ITS implementations that have undergone sound systems engineering analysis and are providing adequate resources for long-term support.
Voice Annunciation System (VAS)
VAS gives on-board automatic voice announcements in English and Spanish of major transfer points, landmarks and safety advisories. This insures that BCT is compliant with ADA regulations for automated audio and visual bus stop location information. Voice annunciation technology enhances the travel experience for all BCT riders by keeping them informed of their current location.
Status: 100 percent of the BCT bus fleet is VAS equipped.
Automated Fare Collection System (AFC)
AFC, also known as electronic fare payment, uses electronic communication, data processing, and data storage techniques to automate manual fare collection processes. AFC also collects information about ridership that is used for planning and operations purposes. More importantly, the information collected is used for regular periodic fiscal reporting. The use of this technology makes fare payment more convenient for travelers and revenue collection less costly for BCT. This technology accepts fare payment via prepaid term passes or cash on-board and allows riders to board more quickly and easily. BCT is also seeking to procure a GPS interface to the current farebox system to provide location-specific passenger fare type data.
Status: AFC is fully operational and functioning and we are currently researching the integration of Smart Card technology to these devices.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
GIS provides a current, spatial, visual representation of transit operations such as maps showing stop locations, routes, landmarks, and streets. It is a special computerized database management system in which geographic databases are related via a common set of location coordinates. This allows information to be developed and displayed to assist operators, dispatchers, and street supervisors to make on-the-spot decisions, and to assist planners in service assessment, restructuring, and system development. It may incorporate U.S. Census Data for planning future service. GIS technology allows BCT to graphically display information about its transit system that can be distributed to its customers.
Status: BCT has been using GIS since 2000.
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Comprehensive Scheduling and Customer Information System
This system consists of a software application that primarily enables the efficient production of vehicle timetables and operator assignments. The application has an integrated module for customer information that is used by BCT Customer Service to answer telephone inquires about service.
Status: BCT has been using this system since 2001.
Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL)
This is a computerized bus tracking technology that locates the buses on the street network. It allows real time monitoring of a bus's movements, better control of the bus headway, closer schedule adherence, and the ability to direct maintenance crews to the scene faster in the event of a vehicle breakdown or loss of communication. This technology allows BCT to improve dispatch efficiency and reliability of the bus service. In addition, extensive information is collected for planning purposes.
Status: BCT has been using this technology since 1996 and is in the process of replacing this outdated system with a new state of the art system using cellular communications to increase the frequency of location reports from the bus and also provide more reliable voice communications. The pilot phase of this new system is nearing completion and we anticipate the entire fleet being upgraded by January 2010.
Automatic Passenger Counters (APC)
APCs automatically count passengers when they board and leave buses. This technology will enable BCT to develop or refine bus schedules and collect information for planning purposes. APCs will reduce the cost of collecting ridership information. Most important, it will increase the amount and quality of information obtained and will permit continuous sampling of stop-by-stop ridership. APCs also can be used to meet National Transit Database data reporting requirements, for tracking ridership data, for improving system on-time performance, and to maximize operational efficiencies.
Status: The test phase of this project has been completed and this technology is now standard on all new bus orders placed. BCT currently has half of its’ fleet using this technology.
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Real Time Transit Information
This technology is designed to provide better customer service by disseminating timely and accurate service information about projected bus arrival and departure times, disruptions and delays, transfers, and other transportation services at select locations. It may also give customers other travel related information such as date and time, weather, security related information, updates during emergencies, and public service announcements. Access to this information is made through a variety of media including Passenger Advisory Signs (PAS), cable television, personal digital assistants (PDAs), internet, telephones, and dynamic message signs (DMS) strategically located at bus shelters, transit centers, major office buildings and shopping centers. Riders use real time information to choose how they will travel (by bus, car or rail), which route, and when.
This technology ties into BCT's primary function – to give the best possible customer service by helping travelers make efficient use of their time while waiting for a bus. Knowing when a bus will arrive or depart helps to reduce traveler anxiety. Starting in June 2008, through a project that was jointly funded by FDOT and Broward County, a new technology was introduced on the 441 corridor, Passenger Advisory Signs (PAS). These signs are used to not only display the next bus arrival, in real time, of all routes stopping at that bus stop but also announces this information for the bus that is due to the shelter first. This allows our passengers to better manage their time and even decide if they have time to make a purchase or use facilities near that shelter and not miss their bus. These real time updates are made possible using state of the art technology and allows the bus to communicate with the sign taking into account the distance from that stop and its’ speed of travel.
Status: There are currently 11 bus shelters on the 441 corridor employing the Passenger Advisory Sign technology and out of these 11 there are 8 that are using solar power to operate this system. There are currently plans being reviewed to install this technology in up to 500 bus shelters throughout the County over the next 5 years.
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Bus Signal Priority System (BSP)
BSP is an ITS strategy that gives buses preference at traffic signals, when they arrive at intersections, or under certain conditions. BCT expects this technology to reduce bus delays and maintain schedules with minimum impact on cross street traffic. BSP will improve mobility, reliability, and efficiency.
Status: There is a joint project underway with FDOT and Broward County Traffic Engineering to test this technology with the traffic light system and determine its’ potential uses and benefits.
Smart cards are replacing magnetic stripe cards as the fare collection system of choice in many recent applications. The cards look similar to standard credit cards and are equipped with a programmable memory chip that performs several functions: holding instructions, holding value, self-monitoring, and creating an electronic bill record. BCT is currently pursuing Smart-Card technology which allows even more flexibility for payments to be accepted by several transit systems in the region, using a variety of payment methods.
Status: New technologies and a wider array of payment methods are currently being reviewed, as testing of some potential equipment is being performed. Stay tuned for details as new developments take place.
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