Management & Operations

Pennsylvania coach operator adds digital TV feed to buses

Posted on May 1, 2003

Capitol Trailways in Harrisburg, Pa., added an information system to five of its coaches that provides passengers with digital TV transmissions of news, weather and sports. In addition to providing up-to-date information, the system developed by NRoute Communications can be upgraded to provide enhanced security. For example, a surveillance system can be installed that captures digital images of the interior of the coach. Those images can then be uploaded to a Website for viewing by the coach operator. NRoute also offers a “panic button” that silently alerts authorities to an emergency situation and pinpoints the location of the vehicle using GPS tracking. Joshua Bennett, president of Capitol Trailways, believes NRoute’s information and security system has tremendous potential, not just for motorcoach buses but also for transit buses and passenger rail. “It’s the wave of the future,” he said. “We believe it will increase the number of people riding intercity buses and provide a higher level of security for those riders.” Bennett said the surveillance system will also reduce the number of criminal incidents aboard buses and could provide valuable evidence against fraudulent claims. At press time, five of Bennett’s 35 coaches had operated with the system for two weeks without any glitches. Five more coaches will be retrofitted with the system, Bennett said. Currently, the coaches are being equipped with the basic package, but will be upgraded to include the security features in the near future. NRoute officials say the cost of an installation runs between $4,200 and $5,500. There’s also a monthly fee of approximately $75 per coach, according to Pablo Fierros, vice president of business development. In return, the carriers receive revenue from NRoute for paid advertising that runs with the news, weather and sports. Fierros said NRoute has contracts with other motorcoach carriers in the Northeast, where it will concentrate its initial efforts. “We’re in the first phase and want to roll out the network in a controlled fashion,” he said. “This summer we’ll begin expanding our efforts to the West.” The system feeds a digital TV signal into existing monitors and works in conjunction with video equipment. “It’s designed to be easily installed using video systems such as REI,” Fierros said. Although not activated in Capitol’s coaches, an entertainment system that can play on-demand, downloadable movies has been installed. This system, Bennett said, will allow charter groups to choose their own movies. Bennett said the initiative to install these information and security systems is backed by Trailways’ corporate office. “They’ve been instrumental in promoting the service with the Transportation Security Administration,” he said. “We are currently looking at ways in which our Trailways membership across the United States can become involved.” For more information about NRoute, call Fierros at (215) 243-4136.

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