The Connected Bus



San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials, Mayor Gavin Newsom and Cisco Systems unveiled a yearlong pilot program, called the Connected Bus (pdf), which is a single bus outfitted with wireless Internet capabilities.

The bus will begin running next week and will be moved around to different lines throughout the year, transit officials said.

Painted green, the bus is a hybrid and 95 percent emissions free, keeping 270 tons of carbon emissions out of the air in a given year, according to officials.

The bus also has three onboard touchscreens that allow riders to access route information for transit lines or boot up their wireless devices to access the Internet, David Evans of Cisco said. Touch screens provide real-time NextMuni information.

Most municipal bus system use multiple systems to monitor vehicle health, real-time location, fare collection, mileage, and other operating data. But they are not integrated, says Cisco, which hampers the efficiency and reliability of the system.

Currently, SF Muni has the following radios planned or installed in their buses:

  • Automatic Vehicle Location Global Positioning (AVL/GPS): This antenna receives GPS data from the GPS satellite for the passenger information system.
  • Automatic Vehicle Location Cellular Transmission: This antenna transmits GPS data and receives configuration data for the passenger information system.
  • Digital Voice Announcement System (DVAS): This antenna receives GPS data from a second GPS satellite for on-board digital voice announcements of stop locations.
  • 400MHz Radio: This antenna transmits and receives information from the operator radio to the Operations Control Central. The same need will exist for the planned 800Mhz upgrade.
  • Fleetwatch: This antenna transmits mileage data from the vehicle to the maintenance system to calculate preventive maintenance cycles.
  • TransLink Regional Fare Collection System: This antenna transmits and receives fare data and rider smart card information from the central fare collection system.
  • Automatic Passenger Counter (APC): This antenna transmits passenger load information from the vehicle to the central passenger counting system.
  • Vehicle Health Monitor (VHM): This antenna transmits engine and transmission data to a central maintenance system to alert mechanics to potential mechanical problems.
  • Closed Circuit TV Cameras (CCTV): Muni plans to transmit real-time video from the vehicle to a central operations location for safety and security monitoring.
  • Farebox: Muni plans to transmit farebox data from the vehicle to the central farebox system for cash fares.
  • Signal Priority: Muni and the Department of Parking and Traffic (DPT) plan to transmit data from the vehicle to the traffic signal controller to enable prioritization for transit vehicles.
  • Operator Training: Muni plans to transmit data from an inertia device on vehicles to the central training system for operating performance monitoring.

Cisco hopes to integrate the 12 different central processing units and/or antennas to interrelate the data, and then to make this data accessible to two different audiences: 1) the full array of data to Muni Operations Control Center, and 2) a more select realm of data to the general public.

Success of this initiative will be ascertained from customer satisfaction, increased ridership and a related decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, as well as response to real-time arrival and transfer information, adjustments due to passenger counts and real-time traffic information and the reception of “green” innovation to build popular support.

Metro Magazine has more transit wireless developments.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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