Apps Helping to Enhance Riders' Experience

Posted on May 22, 2013 by Nicole Schlosser, Senior Editor - Also by this author

Page 1 of 2

In the last year, transit systems have ramped up their smart phone offerings to provide riders with much more than real-time arrival information. This is happening just as the number of smartphone owners in the U.S. rose to 54% at the end of last year, according to comScore. In 2012, 46% of Americans reported using them, based on study  findings from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Additionally, one in four Americans owned a tablet by the end of 2012, reported the study.

Transit agencies have been able to enhance riders’ experience on their systems in a number of ways, ranging from safety to the ability to get those last-minute grocery items on the way home from work. Here is a sampling of some of those apps and their features.

With the aim of providing a security tool that lets riders anonymously report crimes or suspicious behavior to transit police, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) released its iWatch app in February.

Lt. Mike Gettings, transit police, GCRTA, says the app gives riders options to report an incident via smartphone, text message, or calling and leaving a voice message — the system records the person’s voice, translates it to a text message and sends it to transit police.

Development company iThinQware created the app and the iWatchRTA.net website, taking into consideration factors that are unique to transit security and GCRTA’s transit police beat. People can also send notifications and messages through the site.

GCRTA also worked with the developer to create the look of the app, its ease of use and a marketing plan.

Currently in the second phase of its marketing campaign, transit police are encouraging people to use the app as part of GCRTA’s “See Something, Say Something” campaign.

Often, a rider might see something on a train, but if they picked up their phone, they might not feel comfortable talking to the police dispatcher, Gettings explains. The app allows them to simply text the information, so they can not only be anonymous to police officers, but also on the vehicle.

“The person in the vehicle [causing the problem] may be sitting two seats away from them. They’re not even aware they’re sending this to us,” he adds.

While iWatch was installed to use as a tool to notify police of crimes, people often send alerts about basic quality-of-life issues. That’s a good thing, Gettings says.

“We want this app just in case there’s a major incident, like somebody leaves a suspicious package, something happening out of the ordinary,” he adds. “Thankfully, we haven’t received any of those tips.”

The app has helped people point out minor issues and enabled transit police to respond. At this point, the majority of incidents reported have been other riders violating rules against eating, drinking, smoking or playing loud music on the buses. In the past, riders reporting these offenses had to go talk to the driver, and the offender would see the person making the complaint. The operator would then have to call the dispatcher.

However, with the app, riders no longer have to get out of their seats and bring attention to themselves. The driver, who often might not even be aware of the situation, isn’t required to make any phone calls.

Dealing with the minor incidents lets people know that the agency is serious about them. Then, major incidents often don’t occur.

“If we take care of the smoking, eating and drinking, then people are less likely to [commit] more serious crimes,” Gettings says.

Meanwhile, as part of a revived initiative started in 2008 to combat sexual assault and harassment on the transit system, Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) introduced a downloadable “See Something,  Say Something” app. The app allows riders to send a message and photo of the offender to transit police. As an added safety feature, the app automatically disables the phone’s flash.

MBTA transit police suggest that when passengers can safely do so, they take a photo with their phone of the offender and send it to them, Chief Paul MacMillan, MBTA Transit Police, says. “If we don’t know the individual — [many] are chronic offenders — we will send that picture to the media and ask for the public’s help in identifying [them].”

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Alexander Dennis' Enviro500 concept bus on display in Singapore

The full low-floor, three-door, two-staircase double-deck bus is being shown at the LTA-UITP Singapore International Transport Congress and Exhibition in Suntec City.

ETA adds Intelligent Transit System to Grand Valley

The new ITS provides Grand Valley with ETA's real-time arrival predictions, fare collection system integration, automatic on-board announcements, and the tools to track and chart system improvements over time.

Proterra names Honeywell, Tesla vet to COO post

Josh Ensign’s track record includes leading global operations for 42 factories in 15 countries and managing the supporting supply chains. 

Nova announces 2 major orders for San Antonio VIA, Houston Metro

The buses will be manufactured in Plattsburgh, state of New York, and the delivery of the vehicles has already begun in Houston.

Driverless bus service in France sets world record

The two electric vehicles, fitted with high-tech equipment including laser sensors, stereo vision and GPS, can ferry around 15 passengers at a top speed of 12 mph.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment



Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close