A rural ITS demonstration in Poinciana, Florida.
Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority d.b.a. LYNX & Polk County Transit Services (PCTS) Rural Intelligent Transportation System Demonstration Project
The Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX) and the Polk County Transit System (PCTS) serve the rural community of Poinciana, Florida with fixed-route and paratransit services. They were awarded a grant from the FTA for an operational test in 2002 with the purpose of evaluating the benefits of applying ITS technologies to reduce costs and duplicate trips in the area. The ITS technologies implemented were mobile data terminals (MDT) and automatic vehicle location (AVL) devices on 10 paratransit vehicles for each agency. Additionally, the use of common automated scheduling, reservation and dispatch software by both agencies allowed for interoperability between the two systems.
Radio communications are central to the transit system because they allow the various system components, such as Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL), Mobile Data Terminal (MDT), and dispatch, to communicate with each other. Delays or error in data transmission can compromise operations and systems performance. The following guidance and lessons learned were highlighted during the demonstration to simplify the installation and implementation process.
- Provide at least the recommended minimum distance between the GPS antenna and radio antenna on transit vehicles. There are recommended minimum distances for specific vehicles. Additional spacing is encouraged.
- Confirm that a vehicle's wiring harness can be connected to the MDT using available documentation. The MDT needs to have a connection between itself and the vehicle's digital odometer in order to provide information to the AVL system. Installation will be problematic if the vehicle's wiring harness does not have color coded wires or is not fully documented.
- Protect the MDT. The placement of the MDT should be protected to avoid damage caused by passengers boarding the vehicle.
Overall, the demonstration project found that increased interoperability between agencies can improve operations. Customer service staff, dispatchers, and drivers interviewed agreed that the project improved paratransit operations and the service was carrying more passengers more efficiently.