Management & Operations

Inspection tool has security advantages

Posted on June 1, 2004

The Madrid commuter train bombings that left nearly 200 dead and another 1,200 injured raise severe questions about security on U.S. buses and trains.

One operator, Chicago Sightseeing Co., which operates motorcoaches in the Windy City, is experimenting with a device that could be the answer.

A simple, handheld tool that looks very much like a TV remote prompts an inspector or driver to scour a vehicle from end to end, checking every location where tampering may have occurred or a device hidden. The inspection system was developed by ZONAR Systems, a Seattle firm that created the process to help bus operators perform and document their pre- and post-trip vehicle inspections. But ZONAR and others quickly realized the potential use as a security safeguard.

That’s what Chicago Sightseeing is testing now, according to Christopher Ferrone, the company’s vice president for fleet logistics and engineering. “We already use the ZONAR process to check the physical and mechanical condition of our buses,” he said. “Now we hope to see how it works as a means of assuring security.”

Mike McQuade, director of research and development for ZONAR Systems, explained that small, smart sensors called RFID tags are coded with inspection cues and permanently affixed at strategic points throughout the vehicle. The driver or inspector electronically activates the handheld reader near a sensor and receives a complete inspection agenda for that zone. For example, the bus interior checklist would call for inspecting beneath seats for extraneous parcels or boxes.

“The inspector can’t miss any zone or component because he or she is prompted every time. A condition status must be entered at each checkpoint,” McQuade said. Missing a zone becomes obvious at the end of the check and when the information is downloaded into the central database.

Ferrone reinforced the importance of total, verified coverage. “The ultimate benefit of the ZONAR system is 100% confirmation that every element of the inspection has been completed,” he said.

McQuade said that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also has been looking at the ZONAR system for possible applications on all forms of public ground transportation.

Motorcoach operators are eligible for grants to upgrade security and “the ZONAR system is in DHS’ highest priority funding category,” McQuade noted. “Invariably, users of this technology report dramatic improvements in safety while enjoying the many cost-saving efficiencies of a paperless system. There’s no doubt that verified visual inspections will greatly improve transportation security as well.”

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

More News

Connect Transit GM to leave post next month

Bringing in the system's first local tax funding was one of Andrew Johnson's many accomplishments during his tenure.

L.A. Metro reconsidering selling naming rights for trains, stations

Since board approval in December, the staff received new information from the Los Angeles County Counsel’s Office saying corporate naming decisions by Metro could lead to free speech entanglements

Metra chief Orseno to retire by end of 2017

Orseno began his career in 1974 as a ticket collector on Chicago Rock Island & Pacific Railroad commuter trains.

WSP | PB taps Werkmeister as nat'l strategic pursuit manager

She has 27 years of business development, marketing and sales experience, and has successfully led major strategic campaigns for large infrastructure pursuits across Southern California.

Cubic names Walker Ford VP/GM of Eastern region, Americas

This region includes Miami where the EASY Card revenue management system has become a major Cubic project, which recently expanded under a $33 million contract for upgrades to cloud-based services supporting mobile- and open-payment technologies.

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