The innovative solution will allow this feature to be used by transit agencies that don’t have a complete Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) onboard. - Capital Metro

The innovative solution will allow this feature to be used by transit agencies that don’t have a complete Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) onboard.

Capital Metro

Now in its seventh 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. 

METRO’s staff would like to thank everyone who applied, and congratulations again goes to all our winners.

Austin, Texas’ Capital Metro is implementing an onboard digital display system integrated with a real-time data feed versus the traditional integration with on-vehicle schedule information, across a subset of its fleet. The innovative solution will allow this feature to be used by transit agencies that don’t have a complete Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) onboard. Based on General Transit Feed Specification architecture (GTFS-RT), the real-time information informs customers of next-stop arrival times, detours, and delays. The displays also provide safety alerts, system-wide updates to better inform riders choices, and can provide an avenue for revenue generating advertisements.

The partnership stems from a competitive solicitation by Capital Metro, which brought in proposals from several vendors. 

“Clever was awarded a contract based on their past performance on other projects of a similar scope, the qualifications of their firm and project team, the strength of their technical proposal, and the value they could bring to Capital Metro,” says Capital Metro CIO Jane Schroter. “We are currently piloting seven vehicles with 12 displays. An additional 60 vehicles with 92 displays will be installed before the end of the year, bringing the total numbers to 104 displays on 67 vehicles. They will be adopted as a standard in many of our vehicles going forward.”

Capital Metro sought a new solution as its current Sunrise Systems LED displays are limited to scrolling text for stop requests, date, time, operator ID, and next stop information, while the digital displays dynamically provide information versus a static feed, and have greater visual accessibility with high resolution images, text, and video. 

“This innovation positively impacted our operation by improving customer satisfaction, running operations more efficiently,” explains Schroter. 

Since the system is unique and being implemented for the first time, there are challenges for integration into Capital Metro’s system. 

“The safety of our customers is our top priority, so it takes time to consider and work through the design to ensure the safe and proper placement of the displays,” Schroter says about the implementation process. “We then progress through installation adjustments, as well as test efforts to assess performance and reliability. It’s a challenging but thorough process with Clever and manufacturers, which is being met to deliver the technology to our customers.”

Previously, the real-time data was only available through Capital Metro’s website and app. With these displays, customers without smartphones can benefit from this information and are better able to make ride decisions, adds Schroter. 

The displays are also an example of the agency’s commitment to sustainability, as an environmentally friendly option to present a great amount of information digitally rather than through traditional printed materials. The displays also have an ambient light sensor that allows them to adjust brightness and conserve battery energy while still providing visual display clarity to customers. 

On the horizon, Capital Metro plans on implementing revenue-generating advertisements to the system.

“The system provides the ability for us to deploy content that is specific to the time of day, the route, or the geolocation,” Schroter explains. “We are looking forward to implementing this in the future and being able to support local businesses through the ads.”

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