Enhance transit safety and security systems by integrating voice and data technologies and by leveraging video-based systems.

Experience with emerging transit ITS technologies and trends.

Date Posted

Advanced Public Transportation Systems: State of the Art - Update 2006

Summary Information

The U.S. Department of Transportation's report, Advanced Public Transportation Systems: State-of-the-Art Update 2006, contains the results of a high-level scan of the use of advanced technologies in public transportation services in North America. The report is intended to provide up to date information on the current deployment status of transit ITS technologies, provide lessons learned based on deployment experiences, and promote understanding of future trends in Advanced Public Transportation Systems (APTS). Efforts focused on highlighting successful ITS applications, revealing the lessons learned along the way, and identifying the issues and hurdles to help other agencies replicate state-of-the-art applications in an efficient and successful manner.

Lessons Learned

Transit agencies have used technology to improve the safety and security of their operations for decades. Video technologies have been used in and around transit facilities to monitor weather and other environmental conditions for safer operations of rail and passenger terminal services. Technologies such as radio communications systems, video surveillance systems, automated vehicle location systems, and other advanced technologies have helped monitor situations onboard vehicles and in transit facilities. Communications and video technologies continue to greatly improve transit operations, helping to reduce accidents and other unintentional causes of harm, and improving prevention and response of intentional acts of crime and violence. The following lessons provide insight and examples for onboard systems and transit station facilities.

  • Integrate voice and data systems to provide interoperable communications with other onboard systems. Central to most transit agency's onboard safety and security systems are voice communications. There have been many regional, state, and federal efforts to achieve interoperability of radio voice communications among agencies that operate large fleets of vehicles, such as police, fire, and emergency medical teams, and operating agencies such as public transit. Local first responders and public transit are often left to use proprietary, non-compatible electronic radios with non-standardized data definitions and are unable to communicate across agency or organizational boundaries during a crisis. The lack of standardization results in inefficient redundancies and the inability to leverage large radio infrastructure investments such as transmission towers, electrical switches, and power generation equipment.
  • In Cedar Rapids, Iowa they have implemented a system that uses wireless Internet access hubs and inexpensive wireless modem cards on transit vehicles to provide seamless Internet access throughout the transit corridor. This system provides a virtually endless variety of data and information packages that can be communicated to and from transit vehicles providing an interoperable platform for voice and data communications.
  • Enhance overall transit safety and security programs by implementing video assessment systems. Transit management can achieve significant returns on most of its safety and security investments by deploying a video assessment system that leverages an agency's other safety and security assets. The primary advantage to video assessment systems is their ability to record and archive information for real-time and archival use.
  • For example, the New Jersey Transit (NJT) video assessment system is effective because of the interdisciplinary, multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional way in which it is used. The functional requirements for the system were defined under the direction of the NJT police chief, who worked closely with the head of the Information Technology Department who, in turn, specified the technical aspects of the system. The police chief chose requirements not only from transit operations, but from strong working relationships with the New Jersey State Police, Amtrak, New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

This lesson identifies advanced technologies that, if deployed within a transit system, could significantly enhance the safety and security of the transit system. The benefits of these technologies to the transit agency are significant. There could be substantial cost savings to an agency in claims losses, customer service complaints, and system maintenance. These enhancements to safety and security also improve overall system efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Goal Areas

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