With COVID-19 basically canceling the trade show and awards season, METRO Magazine decided to honor our 2020 Innovative Solutions Award winners here in print.
Now in its sixth year, the Innovative Solutions Awards honors bus operations and their supplier partners who have implemented initiatives that helped them save money, run more efficiently, streamline operations, increase safety, improve customer satisfaction, increase ridership, and more. This year, we categorized our winners into six categories: Technology, Safety, Passenger Experience, Operations, Clean Tech, and Mobility.
Cap Metro partnered with Luminator to innovate its customer communications by transitioning to 99 electronic paper (e-paper) signs at MetroRapid bus stations and MetroBus fixed-route stops from light-emitting diode (LED) signs. The innovation led to running operations more efficiently, improving safety before and during the pandemic, and improving customer satisfaction.
Previously, the LED signs could only display two routes at a time and display messages in a scrolling fashion that customers had to catch at just the right time. The Luminator e-paper signs can display six or more real-time departures, route maps for wayfinding, and safety messages. The system has the ability for dispatchers to send recorded or ad hoc messages to target specific stations, groups of stations, or the entire e-paper system with vital safety information to keep customers safe prior to, and during, the pandemic.
“Previously, we had very few options with the old technology for dynamic changes in font size or content, and very limited real estate. The new Luminator signs provide many more options and a better interface for customers and our operations staff to communicate,” says Jane Schroter, VP & Chief Information Officer at CapMetro.
As a result of the Luminator and CapMetro partnership, the innovative e-paper solution provided:
- Higher customer satisfaction: Customers are no longer limited to only seeing the next two departures, and at MetroRapid stations they are no longer limited to only Rapid routes, they can see fixed-route arrivals that share the station and have more flexibility in selecting the best route to meet their busy schedules. Additionally, the high-contrast e-paper displays are visually superior to the older LED signs and show information in a crisp manner much as traditional paper signs.
- Running operations more efficiently: E-paper signs are environmentally-friendly and save energy costs because they are light-reflecting instead of LEDs, so once the e-paper image is displayed, no additional energy is used until the next image is displayed. Additionally, CapMetro reported seeing a dramatic decrease in customer calls to the help center to find out when the next bus will depart, allowing customer service to assist more riders.
- Improving safety before and during the pandemic: Instead of the scrolling messages which were size restricted, the innovative e-paper signs can display public safety messages simultaneously with route information or be displayed on a separate full screen for emphasis. To support social distancing, the e-Paper signs are also able to display crowding information on a bus to promote safety.
“Since its founding almost a century ago, Luminator has been at the forefront of new innovations in transit technology,” says Kirk Goins, CEO at Luminator. “Our technology strategy is to not only leverage and introduce new technologies but also develop and implement them in a way so that transit agencies like CapMetro can realize tangible benefits and provide safer, more intelligent, and efficient transportation.”