OBJECTIVES AND PROJECT DESCRIPTION
The following objectives and ITS applications were detailed in the report:
Disseminate accurate and timely information to visitors regarding on-site parking, bus arrival and departure times, and on-board transit status information.
- Real-time bus departure electronic message signs were installed at the Visitor Center and the Jordan Pond House bus stops, and at the Village Green in Bar Harbor.
- Automated on-board next-stop annunciators were installed on each Island Explorer bus.
- Parking information was made available on the Acadia website (This parking information was available for a limited amount of time during the post-deployment evaluation period).
- Automatic vehicle/ranger geo-location applications (planned but not deployed).
- Entrance traffic volume recorders (planned but not deployed).
- Parking lot monitoring devices (planned but not deployed, manual counts were collected instead to provide parking lot status information for two of the most popular parking lots).
- Island Explorer two-way voice communications were installed on buses.
- GPS Automatic vehicle locator (AVL) system.
- On-board automatic passenger counters (APC).
- Real-time transit status signs and parking information were installed to reduce congestion, improve mobility, and allow visitors to manage time to visit local businesses.
Post-deployment data were collected during the summer tourist season of 2002. Mail-back questionnaires and interviews were used to measure impacts of ITS on customer satisfaction.
A visitor survey was conducted on the Island Explorer and at a number of selected sites within the Park from July 29 to September 1, 2002. These interviews along with a more extensive mail-back questionnaire were offered to visitors in order to garner more specific information on visitor awareness, use, and experience with ITS technologies at the Park. A total of 1278 adults agreed to the mail-back survey, and 928 usable questionnaires were returned for a 74 percent response rate.
A business survey was conducted in the Fall of 2002. Using a mailing list provided by the local Chamber of Commerce, 454 mail-back questionnaires were sent to businesses on Mount Desert Island and a total of 257 responses were received and analyzed. Business managers provided information on their awareness, use, and experience with ITS at the Park.
Key informant interviews were conducted in the Fall of 2002. Sixteen (16) people including Acadia Park managers, rangers, Island Explorer staff, and stakeholders and organizations (Maine DOT and the Friends of Acadia) who helped plan the FOT were interviewed to evaluate their perception of issues affecting the deployment and the use of ITS at Acadia.
VISITOR SURVEY RESULTS
- Forty-four (44) percent of bus passengers who experienced real time parking information reported it helped them decide to ride a bus.
- Visitors who used ITS at Acadia and experienced ITS transit applications reported longer vacation stays than visitors who did not use ITS, or only used parking information. Fifty-eight (58) percent of visitors who experienced ITS transit applications reported spending $301 or more during their stay. Only 46 percent of visitors who did not use ITS reported spending this much.
- More than 86 percent of visitors surveyed who experienced ITS at Acadia indicated the information they received was accurate, clearly understandable, and easy to use.
- Most respondents indicated they had a high-quality experience regardless of using (or not using) traveler information.
BUSINESS MANAGER SURVEY RESULTS
- Business managers indicated the Island Explorer bus system helped address congestion and parking management during the summer tourist season at Acadia; however, most managers were unaware ITS technologies were deployed.
KEY INFORMANT INTERVIEW RESULTS
- Drivers and managers of the Island Explorer bus system were very satisfied with the ITS deployment. Managers could not confirm the ITS deployed contributed to an increase in ridership; however, they did believe the technology deployed improved bus operations and customer satisfaction. Operations data indicated ridership and operating costs increased, but the cost per rider per mile decreased.
- Drivers indicated ITS made their jobs easier and helped them cope with increasing traffic and ridership.
- Park staff were fairly neutral in their reaction to ITS. Some planned ITS technologies were unable to be realized during the evaluation project as a result of technical and institutional difficulties.
The author noted that the "FOT evaluation may reflect to some degree visitors’ use of the Island Explorer bus itself as compared to the traveler information." In addition, caution should be used in projecting these results to Park visitors in general since visitors were surveyed in a number of different locations having one or more traveler information sources.