Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) is one of the three major transit providers in Monterey Bay area. Currently, MST serves an area of approximately 280 square miles in Monterey County and Southern Santa Cruz County. MST provides service to the 352,000 residents of Monterey County with 36 fixed routes, plus trolleys and express routes. The TransitMaster system was implemented at MST in October 2002 as part of a $3.5 million MST Advanced Communication System (ACS) project. The TransitMaster system was installed to provide MST operations with computer-aided dispatch/ automatic vehicle location (CAD/AVL) and digital voice/data communications. The TransitMaster system is the system under evaluation in the report.
The evaluation of the MST was done by analyzing quantitative data obtained from MST and qualitative data obtained by interviewing MST staff (staff interviews were conducted in Phase II), and by conducting intercept surveys of MST customers at two major transfer centers (surveys were conducted in Phase III). The evaluation of ITS deployment at MST has resulted in the identification of key factors about MST’s experience related to the procurement, implementation, management, and utilization of ITS technologies. Also, the evaluation identified the impacts of the technology on various departments at MST. Further, the customer satisfaction survey conducted in Phase III of the evaluation helped measure customer perception of the impacts of the deployment of technology at MST.
MST reported that by installing cameras on the interior and exterior of all of their buses, they improved perceptions of safety and security for both passengers and drivers, improved relations with local police by providing surveillance data for any incidents occurring on MST property or on or near buses, improved inventory control, and a way to provide evidence in cases of insurance claims or driver complaints. They estimate that $70,000 in insurance claims had been saved as a result of the cameras.
Use of automated vehicle location (AVL) systems in conjunction with mobile data terminals (MDT) installed on all of the buses has allowed dispatchers to use text messages to contact drivers and radio traffic has decreased 60 percent as a result. The AVL technology also allowed MST to provide real-time arrival information on dynamic messaging systems (DMS) at several transit centers and large transfer points. Staff also found the data archiving capabilities of AVL technology to be beneficial for planning and operations purposes.
Through scheduling software, MST has been able to provide their riders with a trip planning tool through Google Transit. They were also able to better utilize their vehicles and recently were able to replace 17 buses with just 15 new buses. By encoding labor rules into the scheduling software, MST was able to save $1 million in labor costs. Scheduling software also connects with the automated announcement system, which received good reviews in customer surveys.