Mass Transit - 38


Latest Technology to
Improve Communication
Incremental approach
leads to expansive
real-time services
By Gabriel Morey
Intelligent Transportation
Coordinator DASH

ALEXANDRIA, VA. * When the Alex-

andria Transit Company (DASH) first
installed our Clever Devices CAD/AVL
system, our goals were simple: meet ADA
compliance and dispatch more efficiently.
We wanted to meet the public expectation of providing real-time information,
but it was a nice-to-have, not a necessity.
Now, DASH considers real-time data a
core part of our service.
DASH has embraced real-time arrival predictions because they make transit
easier to understand and use. Schedules
are promises to customers, but they come
with caveats outside the agency's control,
especially in a heavy-traffic city like Alexandria. In this environment, real-time
predictions do not just inform customers
when the bus will arrive-they reassure
them that the bus is on the way. Service
alerts about schedule changes, detours and
stop closures further reduce uncertainty,
building trust that DASH will get you to

your destination even if your normal stop
is closed. However, we have learned that we
must post as soon as incidents happen-
the usefulness of an alert system is only
as strong as staff's ability to maintain it.
How has a small agency like DASH
been able offer such expansive real-time
services? First, we took an incremental approach, starting with the DASH Tracker.
We have deliberately expanded from there,
first with real-time arrival signs and now
with the upcoming OneBusAway deployment. We also sought external funding
wherever possible, winning grants from
the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transit (DRPT), the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC)
and the Northern Virginia Transportation
Authority (NVTA) that have paid for our
digital arrival signs. However, grants are
not permanent, so we are launching a sig-

Grants are not permanent,
so we are launching a
signage-leasing program
where local business and
residential communities
can rent signs from DASH.

Consider all variables to push
performance of onboard systems

By Maria Waddy
North American Product Lead Icomera US, Inc.

38 |

Mass Transit | | JUNE 2019

nage-leasing program where local business and residential communities can rent
signs from DASH. This program will allow
business to enjoy the benefits of a sign for
less money than buying outright while defraying the costs for DASH. Finally, we
have cultivated relationships that have
helped us expand our real-time systems.
For instance, Metrobus owns most of the
solar-powered signs in Alexandria, but we
share resources to purchase, install, monitor and maintain them. The same goes for
the LCD displays we've installed at local
apartments, government offices and the
local community college-in each location, we've established a memorandum of
agreement that shares the cost of the sign.
Transit should be a utility, something
as reliable and expected as the water from
our tap or electricity from the grid. While
real-time data will not unsnarl traffic or
reduce dwell time, it reassures customers that they will not be stranded. With
creative thinking and slow, steady work,
even small agencies like DASH can enjoy
the benefits of real-time data.
DASH currently provides real-time
predictions in three ways- (1) the webbased DASH Tracker; (2) third-party apps
(notably the Transit app); and (3) a network
of over 20 solar-powered digital arrival
signs jointly-managed by DASH and DC
Metro. Going forward, we are launching
the DASHBus mobile payment app that
links to the Transit app, installing more
digital arrival signs and deploying OneBusAway to integrate with Metro's BusETA.
We consider real-time predictions as so
vital that we even hired Cambridge Systematics to create a prediction-engine fueled solely by GPS data from bus routers,
so that during this summer's Metrorail
platform improvement project, our contingency buses without Clever Devices will
still provide estimates for customers.

ROCKVILLE, MD. * With the

emergence of smart cities, IoT
and 5G technologies, the importance of reliable, secure,
real-time onboard communications for public transportation vehicles is ever increasing.
Connectivity to the vehicle through cellular, sat-

ellite, radio and dedicated
short-range communication
(DSRC), as well as onboard
connectivity through Wi-Fi,
Bluetooth and ethernet, results in a highly sophisticated
mobile communications network. While being a sizable
investment for any agency,

Mass Transit

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Mass Transit

Ad Index
Editor's Notebook
People & Places
TTC faces a forced reset
Special Report: The state of passenger rail
Making a safe and comfortable stop
Not all wireless is created equal
Video aids agency monitoring efforts
Best Practices
Social Hubs
Rail Product Guide
Mass Transit - 1
Mass Transit - 2
Mass Transit - 3
Mass Transit - 4
Mass Transit - 5
Mass Transit - Ad Index
Mass Transit - 7
Mass Transit - Editor's Notebook
Mass Transit - 9
Mass Transit - People & Places
Mass Transit - 11
Mass Transit - TTC faces a forced reset
Mass Transit - 13
Mass Transit - 14
Mass Transit - 15
Mass Transit - 16
Mass Transit - 17
Mass Transit - 18
Mass Transit - 19
Mass Transit - Special Report: The state of passenger rail
Mass Transit - 21
Mass Transit - 22
Mass Transit - 23
Mass Transit - 24
Mass Transit - 25
Mass Transit - 26
Mass Transit - 27
Mass Transit - 28
Mass Transit - 29
Mass Transit - Making a safe and comfortable stop
Mass Transit - 31
Mass Transit - Not all wireless is created equal
Mass Transit - 33
Mass Transit - 34
Mass Transit - 35
Mass Transit - Video aids agency monitoring efforts
Mass Transit - 37
Mass Transit - Best Practices
Mass Transit - 39
Mass Transit - 40
Mass Transit - 41
Mass Transit - Products
Mass Transit - 43
Mass Transit - 44
Mass Transit - Classifieds
Mass Transit - Social Hubs
Mass Transit - 47
Mass Transit - 48
Mass Transit - Rail Product Guide
Mass Transit - R2
Mass Transit - R3
Mass Transit - R4
Mass Transit - R5
Mass Transit - R6
Mass Transit - R7
Mass Transit - R8