The Connectpoint Digital Bus Stop displays will supplement King County Metro’s current static passenger information across the agency’s 176 bus lines.  -  Photo: Connectpoint

The Connectpoint Digital Bus Stop displays will supplement King County Metro’s current static passenger information across the agency’s 176 bus lines.

Photo: Connectpoint

Seattle’s King County Metro (KCM) awarded Connectpoint a five-year contract to install hundreds of “smart city” digital signs for the its RapidRide BRT stations and transit centers in 2020.

The contract included Connectpoint’s latest 42-inch Digital Bus Stop. The Digital Bus Stop displays will supplement KCM’s current static passenger information across the agency’s 176 bus lines. The 32-inch and 42-inch solar or A/C powered displays will be installed at highly-trafficked bus stops, transit centers, and corridors across the city.

KCM, Connectpoint Project Impact

As of October 2021, Connectpoint’s 32-inch ePaper displays have been placed at three new stations that connect with the new Northgate Link light rail extension: Northgate, Roosevelt, and the U District Station. Installation of the signage enables riders to drastically decrease their commute time and get from Northgate Station to downtown Seattle’s Westlake station in just 14 minutes.

Connectpoint’s ePaper displays provide riders with real-time arrivals, departures, and alerts.

The synchronized, cloud-based displays can be controlled and managed remotely 24/7 through Connectpoint’s personalized content management system, CPAM, giving KCM messaging flexibility to provide a better customer experience. Together, the light rail expansion, RapidRide lines, and ePaper signs will make everyday life easier and more efficient for riders throughout Seattle.

All digital signage will include a Push-to-Talk system to enable audible announcements. Connectpoint’s text-to-speech button features a sleek design in a rugged housing that is easy to deploy. Audio messaging can be queued for sequential delivery and supplemented with pre-recorded messages and tones.

METRO recently spoke to Scott Peterson, transit technology project manager II, capital project delivery, for KCM about the project with Connectpoint, the benefit for KCM’s riders, and much more.

As of October 2021, Connectpoint’s 32-inch ePaper displays have been placed at three new stations that connect with the new Northgate Link light rail extension: Northgate, Roosevelt, and the U District Station.  -  Photo: Connectpoint

As of October 2021, Connectpoint’s 32-inch ePaper displays have been placed at three new stations that connect with the new Northgate Link light rail extension: Northgate, Roosevelt, and the U District Station.

Photo: Connectpoint

How did KCM end up partnering with Connectpoint? What kind of issues were you hoping to solve?

We originally met at an APTA conference in Nashville. KCM was in attendance to be named “Best Large Transit System in North America” by APTA. I was supporting technology for the new RapidRide H Line, along with our future new RapidRide lines. KCM was looking to upgrade our real-time information signs (RTIS). As I walked through the conference exhibits I found Connectpoint’s booth. We were drawn to their innovative LCD and ePaper technology.

At the time, KCM was using older LED technology to display our next departure times at our RapidRide stations. The LED technology has limits with real-time alerts, and KCM wanted to improve ridership experience by providing these alerts for riders who don’t have access to smartphones or other technologies that provide real-time alerts.

KCM completed an Invitation-To-Bid (ITB) and solicited multiple vendors to learn of their real-time alerts technology. Through a rigorous bidding process, KCM selected Connectpoint’s ePaper solution.

Connectpoint’s CPAM software really won them the contract. CPAM is very intuitive and easy to manage, allowing KCM to provide real-time alerts to our riders.

Talk about the project…Where are you at now and where will you be, in terms of implementation, once the program is over?

KCM first deployed the new 32-inch ePaper RTIS at joint Sound Transit/KCM stations serving Northgate Link Stations and Northgate Transit Center, starting in October 2021. And earlier this year, the agency deployed over 100 32- and 42-inch RTIS signs at the new RapidRide H Line serving downtown Seattle through West Seattle and into Burien.

KCM is currently working on upgrading all RapidRide Stations, A through F Lines, with over 350 new 32-inch ePaper displays. Additionally, KCM is planning to implement an additional 450 32-inch displays on the new Rapid Ride I, J, K, and R lines over the next six years.

Post-Covid, it seems as if the industry has heightened its focus on the customer experience, can you talk about how this does so for KCM, as well as other initiatives the agency has undertaken?

KCM continues to look at ways to improve our wayfinding at our Transit Stations where we partner with other agencies. We provide next departure data for other agencies on our KCM ePaper displays, which allows riders to transition from one agency’s mode of transportation to ours easily.

Connectpoint’s text-to-speech button features a sleek design in a rugged housing that is easy to deploy. Audio messaging can be queued for sequential delivery and supplemented with pre-recorded messages and tones.  -  Photo: Connectpoint

Connectpoint’s text-to-speech button features a sleek design in a rugged housing that is easy to deploy. Audio messaging can be queued for sequential delivery and supplemented with pre-recorded messages and tones.

Photo: Connectpoint

What is KCM using the Connectpoint signage for, specifically, and what has customer feedback been like?

KCM uses Connectpoint’s ePaper displays to improve ridership by implementing easier to read, real-time rider alerts, and emergency information out at the stations. They look amazing, and customer feedback has been great — we receive many comments about how useful it is to have information and alerts in real time. We are always looking for ways to improve the transit experience for our riders, and this digital signage solution has proven to be very effective.

What is maintenance on the signage and how has KCM worked with Connectpoint, both from a pre- and post-implementation standpoint?

The maintenance on these new ePaper displays has been great. The displays are very rugged and use gorilla glass-like technology to help with vandalization. They are rated for all types of weather and are energy efficient. Connectpoint offers a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) service that is quick and easy. KCM purchased an extended warranty to keep this service going for an additional four years.

Are there other benefits of the signage?  

I really like their easy readability under direct sun and crystal-clear readability at night. This is one of my favorite features. I also like their solar power option, which allows us to implement it at locations that do not have local power. This is a huge cost savings and we plan to implement this feature on the new Rapid Ride I Line in 2026.

Additionally, KCM added Connectpoint’s Text-To-Speech technology. These push buttons read the display aloud for the visually impaired riders, which improves our services across the county.

About the author
Alex Roman

Alex Roman

Executive Editor

Alex Roman is Executive Editor of METRO Magazine — the only magazine serving the public transit and motorcoach industries for more than 100 years.

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