Research Archive

3.2 Applicability of Technologies

As described in the previous chapter, to successfully complete trips, all kinds of travelers need to be able to complete certain tasks including:

  • Understanding the transportation system (planning and affording the trip);
  • Accessing the transportation system;
  • Entering/using/transferring/exiting vehicles; and
  • Arriving at the trip's destination.

A number of these tasks can be challenging for persons who are unfamiliar with the system and for persons who are transportation disadvantaged including older adults, persons who have ambulatory disabilities, visual impairments, hearing impairments, cognitive impairments, and for persons with low incomes or who do not have access to a private vehicle. As identified in the previous Chapter there are a number of ways to assist these passengers ranging from consumer training programs, to driver assistance, to removal of physical and informational barriers, to development of better scheduling and data handling programs. Many of these assistance needs can be enhanced through the use of transit ITS and other advanced technologies.

Table 3-2 is drawn from Table 2-5 in the previous chapter. The abbreviations and shortened labeling used in the table are listed in Table 3-1. Table 3-2 includes a restatement of travel needs and potential barriers, personal limitations, and primary modes affected. For brevity, the trip components "accessing the system" and "arriving at the trip's destination" have been combined as many of the same needs apply in both cases. It also includes an additional component titled "other issues and concerns" to help the reader understand how technologies can assist related transportation trip elements.

The table also includes potential technology-based solutions (described earlier in this section.) It should be noted that most needs/barriers are present whether someone resides in a large metropolitan area (including suburban areas), small urban areas or rural areas. However, some situations have more impact in certain areas. For example, the overall lack of any public transportation services – even taxis – in rural areas is a specific problem not encountered in most cities. Larger cities may have gaps in service area by time of day or issues related to reverse commuting, but there is generally some public transportation service available to residents. Similarly, residents in suburban areas around large metropolitan areas or in low density cities may have public transportation that is relatively infrequent (e.g., one-hour headways) or that ceases service early in the evening, precluding attendance at evening events or working late shifts.

Table 3-1. Personal Limitations and Travel Modes
Abbreviation Description
All All persons including the general public
Cognitive Person who has a cognitive impairment including, for example, Alzheimer's, developmental disabilities or other cognitive impairments
Dexterity Person who has limited use of the hands, making it difficult to handle fares or operate switches, knobs, etc.
Endurance Person who is frail or requires personal assistance including persons with weather sensitivities (heat or cold); may not be able to wait for long periods or travel long distances
Experience Person who is not familiar with public transportation and/or the system
Hearing Person who is hearing impaired including deaf and hard of hearing
Low income Person who is low income
Language Limited or no English proficiency; may include inability to read
Physical Person who has physical disabilities especially related to ambulation
Vision Person who is vision impaired including blind and low vision
empty cell Mode Related
All All modes
DR Typically publicly funded paratransit and other flexibly routed service, including ADA complementary paratransit and general public dial-a-ride
FR Fixed route including bus and rail
HS Human service agency demand-response transportation
TX Taxis
VP Vanpooling/carpooling

Table 3-2. Potential Technology Solutions to Address Travel Needs
# Travel Needs and Potential Barriers Personal Limitations Primary Mode(s) Potential Technology Solutions
1. Understanding the System and Planning the Trip
a. No experience with the system.
  • Experience
  • Cognitive
  • Hearing
  • Vision
FR
DR
VP
Information available via various dissemination media including:
  • Accessible Internet.
  • Interactive and static kiosks.
  • Mobile telephones.
  • PDAs.
  • TTY.
  • IVR.
b. Transportation service availability: service is limited, not available at times or to destinations needed.
  • All
FR
DR
  • See 1.a.
c. Origin-destination information.
  • Experience
  • Cognitive
  • Language
  • Hearing
  • Vision
FR
  • See 1.a.
d. Legible schedule and fare information.
  • Cognition
  • Vision
FR
  • See 1.c.
e. Vehicle transfers are required to complete the trip.
  • All
FR
DR
Trip/itinerary planner available via various dissemination media including:
  • Internet.
  • IVR systems.
  • Mobile telephones.
  • PDAs.
  • Connection Protection.
f. "Door-to-door" trip planning, including linked or multi-destination trips (i.e. seamless multi-modal service.).
  • All
FR
DR
  • Mobility Manager.
2. Accessing the Transportation System
a. Access points are in a safe environment, easily accessible, and there is a clear path of travel to and from these points.
  • Cognition
  • Endurance
  • Physical
  • Vision
FR
  • GIS (to identify barriers).
  • Smart pedestrian signals (i.e., those that sense a pedestrian in the crosswalk to alert traffic).
  • Way-finding for visually impaired.
  • GPS-based way-finding using PDAs.
  • Visual display signs.
b. Entering station or transit center.
  • Cognition
  • Endurance
  • Physical
  • Vision
FR
  • Way-finding using GPS-based PDAs or Talking Signs®.
  • Elevators, escalators, ramps.
  • Level boarding (ramps, lifts, platforms).
c. Vehicle pick-up times are reliable.
  • Endurance
  • Physical
  • Vision
FR
DR
  • AVL (underlying technology)
  • MDT
  • Dynamic message signs that display real-time arrival/departure information at stop.
  • Real-time information displayed on other media, including Internet, IVR, mobile telephones and PDAs.
  • Automated call-back (confirm pick-up time).
d. Some trips need to be reserved in advance.
  • All
DR
HS
  • Reservations available via the Internet and IVR systems.
  • Automated scheduling and dispatching software.
  • Automated call-back (confirm pick-up time).
e. Payment for the trip and using the fare payment system.
  • Low Income
  • Cognitive
  • Physical
  • Vision
  • Experience
  • Language
DR
FR
TX
  • Magnetic stripe or contact-less Smart Cards (to more easily pay for subsidized trips).
  • Accessible ticket vending machines/fare adjustment devices (multi-lingual as needed).
  • Magnetic stripe or contact-less Smart Card reader.
  • Automated fare gates or no fare gates.
f. Recognizing the correct vehicle and/or destination
  • Cognitive
  • Experience
  • Vision
  • Hearing
FR
  • Automated annunciation system (GPS-based).
  • On-board Dynamic Message Signs.
g. Notification of vehicle arrival is provided.
  • All
DR Real-time vehicle arrival information available via a variety of dissemination media, including:
  • Accessible Internet.
  • Mobile telephones.
  • PDAs.
  • TTY.
  • IVR (for automatic notification).
  • Automated scheduling & dispatching software.
3. Arriving at the trip's destination
a. Destination points are in a safe environment, easily accessible, and there is a clear path of travel to and from these points.
  • Cognition
  • Endurance
  • Physical
  • Vision
FR
  • GIS (to identify barriers).
  • Smart pedestrian signals (i.e., those that sense a pedestrian in the crosswalk to alert traffic).
  • Way-finding for visually impaired.
  • GPS-based way-finding using PDAs.
  • Visual display signs.
b. Exiting station or transit center.
  • Cognition
  • Endurance
  • Physical
  • Vision
FR
  • Way-finding using GPS-based PDAs or Talking Signs®.
  • Elevators, escalators, ramps.
  • Level boarding (ramps, lifts, platforms).
c. Vehicle drop-off times are reliable.
  • Endurance
  • Physical
  • Vision
FR
DR
  • AVL (underlying technology)
  • MDT
  • Dynamic message signs that display real-time arrival/departure information at stop
  • Real-time information displayed on other media, including Internet, IVR, mobile telephones and PDAs
  • Automated call-back (confirm pick-up time)
d. Recognizing the correct destination.
  • Cognitive
  • Experience
  • Vision
  • Hearing
FR
  • Automated annunciation system (GPS-based).
  • On-board Dynamic Message Signs.
e. Notification of stop is provided.
  • All
FR
  • Automated annunciation system.
  • Dynamic message signs (inside the vehicle).
4. Entering, Using, and Exiting the Vehicle
a. Boarding correct vehicle.
  • Cognition
  • Vision
  • Experience
FR
DR
TX
  • Automated annunciation system that includes signs and announcements made outside the vehicle.
  • Real-time messaging.
  • Talking Signs®.
b. Ability to enter & exit vehicle.
  • Physical
  • Vision
FR
DR
TX
VP
  • Low-floor vehicles.
  • Kneeling vehicles.
  • Level boarding (ramps, lifts, platforms).
c. Ability to travel on the vehicle while in motion, i.e. move to and from the entry point to the seat or riding location.
  • Cognitive
  • Endurance
  • Physical
  • Vision
FR
DR
  • Wheelchair securement system.
  • Mobility aid securement system.
d. On-board and other special announcements are provided.
  • All
FR
  • Automated annunciation system.
  • Dynamic message sign.
e. Reasonable travel time.empty cell
  • Cognitive
  • Endurance
FR
DR
HS
  • Automated scheduling and dispatching software.
f. Transfer to other vehicles or modes during the trip.
  • Cognition
  • Vision
  • Endurance
  • Physical
FR
DR
TX
  • Public address systems.
  • Automated announcements.
  • Dynamic message signs at stop or station that displays transfer information.
g. Vehicle stops in convenient locations or as the rider requests.
  • All
FR
DR
TX
HS
  • Automated annunciation system that includes signs and announcements made outside the vehicle.
h. Evacuation: evacuation procedures are posted within the vehicle, and traveler can evacuate the vehicle in case of emergency.
  • All
FR
DR
  • Automated annunciation system.
  • Dynamic message sign.
5. Other Issues and Concerns
a. Many persons in society need a wider range of mobility choices than is currently available.
  • All
All
  • Mobility Manager.
b. Land uses seldom planned with reference to transportation services.
  • All
FR
DR
HS
  • Web-based "distance to transit" maps available for all communities (e.g., spider maps used by London Transport to show services around transit stations, or WMATA Station Masters guide)

3.3 State of Readiness and Level of Deployment

This section provides an overview of the state of readiness and level of deployment of ITS-related technologies, many of which were identified in the previous table as potential solutions to accessibility and mobility issues. The status of the technology has been characterized as being in one of the following categories:

  • Conceptual research.
  • Prototype.
  • Proven prototype.
  • Proven with limited deployment.
  • Proven with full scale deployment.

Table 3-3 shows the state of readiness and level of deployment for selected technologies. The table includes examples for each, where applicable.

As shown in the table, many technologies are already proven with full-scale deployment. This state of readiness demonstrates that these technologies have proven to improve transit services in terms of operational efficiency and customer service. While there are challenges for human service and small transit agencies to deploying technology due to a number of factors (e.g., covering wide, sparsely populated geographic areas; serving populations that require special services; having a small number of vehicles; and having limited funding for operations), it is important for transportation providers considering new technologies to recognize that most are already well-tested and reliable.

There are three key aspects of technology deployment that transportation providers should take into account as they consider a technology:

  • Providers should conduct a needs assessment to determine whether a technology can help to address specific issues.
  • Providers should contact agencies similar to their own that have fully deployed the technology being evaluated to obtain information about lessons learned.
  • Providers should look for opportunities to partner with other agencies that are interested in procuring the same technologies. This approach will create not only potential economies of scale in procurement, but also a group of users that can share their experiences and assist each other with the use of the technology.
Table 3-3. State of Readiness / Deployment Level for Selected Transit ITS Services and Technologies
Selected Transit ITS Services/Technologies Definitions State of Readiness / Deployment Levels Examples
Fleet Management
1. Advanced Communications for Operations Enables the ITS required to implement other services. Provides necessary connections and band-width for information flows to/from vehicles, wayside devices, operations center(s), and other agencies
  • Geographic Positioning Systems (GPS)
Vehicle location no matter where vehicle is located using GPS, Differential GPS, Loran-C (old) and other technologies. May need to be supplemented in urban canyons, tunnels, and other dead zones. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples
  • Automatic Vehicle Location
Enabling ITS that is required to implement other services. Provides location tracking for vehicles, equipment, and personnel. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably Ann Arbor Transportation Authority in Ann Arbor, MI
  • Mobile Data Terminal (MDT)
Vehicle installed display and entry of pre-determined key and/or real time data entry. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably Tri-Met in Portland, OR
  • Voice Communication
Voice communication to/from mobile and wayside field sources and communications center. Includes access control. Proven with Full Scale Deployment CARTS in Austin, TX
  • Data Communication
Transfer of real-time data from mobile and wayside field sources to/from operations center and each other. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably CARTS in Austin, TX
  • Coordinated Inter-Agency Communications
Ability for transit agencies, public safety, incident management, etc. to share communications in emergency or other situations. Proven with Limited Deployment SMART in suburban Detroit, MI
2. Transit Operations/ Decision Support Tracks location and performance of vehicles (in-service and support) and provides decision support for real time fleet operations.
  • Fixed Route Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD)
CAD for Fixed Route Services empty cell empty cell
  • Disruption Identification & Service Restoration
Identifies early, late, off route, bunching and other problems. Prioritizes identified problems and provides recommendations for restoring service. Responses are not automated. In Prototype N/A
  • Connection Protection
Monitors service to ensure required connections are made. Identifies potential missed connections and provides recommended service responses. Some actions may be automatically carried out based on decision rules of the system. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably Fresno Area Express in Fresno, CA and UTA in Salt Lake City, UT
  • Flex-Route
Provides route deviation within specified parameters (distance, time) based upon requests from potential passengers Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably Belbus in Flanders, Belgium
  • Incident Response
Provides coordinated response by field supervisors, maintenance, public safety, and emergency response teams to alarms, accidents, breakdowns and other events. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably Tri-Met in Portland, OR
  • Paratransit Computer Aided Dispatch
empty cell empty cell empty cell
  • Trip Scheduling and Routing
Provides support for scheduling and routing of travel requests. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples
  • Disruption Identification & Service Restoration
Identifies potential missed trips and other problems. Prioritizes identified problems and provides response recommendations. Responses are not automated. In prototype empty cell
  • Incident Response
Provides coordinated response by field supervisors, maintenance, public safety, and emergency response teams to alarms, accidents, breakdowns and other events. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples
  • Automated Operations Management for Paratransit
Automated scheduling and routing of paratransit service. In Prototype ADART in Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Automatic Passenger Counters (APC)
Automated counting of passenger boarding's and de-boarding's. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably King County Metro in Seattle (fixed-route vehicles only)
Traveler Information
1. Static Information
  • Pre-Trip Transit Information Systems
Provide information at origin prior to start of the trip. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably WMATA in Washington, DC MBTA in Boston, MA
  • Transit Call Center
Transit Information call centers to assist passengers in their information requests. Can be automated or staffed with operators. Provides information based upon published schedules and routes. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably WMATA in Washington, DC and MBTA in Boston, MA
  • Published Routes, Schedules, and Fares
Provision of published schedules, routes, and fares. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably WMATA in Washington, DC and MBTA in Boston, MA
  • Itinerary Planning
Provide transit routes and transfers to take based upon origin, destination, and desired time of travel. May provide information on a single or multiple transit trips. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably WMATA in Washington, DC and MBTA in Boston, MA
  • In-Terminal/Wayside Transit Information Systems
Provide information at station, stop, or other location along route. Passenger Information Displays, Monitors, VMS, and sign boards to display arrival and/or departure times of buses/trains. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably Rockland County, NY (Touch Vision kiosk)
  • Published Routes, Schedules, and Fares
Provision of published schedules, routes, and fares. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably Rockland County, NY (Touch Vision kiosk)
  • Itinerary Planning
Provide transit routes and transfers to take based upon origin, destination, and desired time of travel. May provide information on a single or multiple transit trips. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably Rockland County, NY (Touch Vision kiosk)
  • Access/Egress Directions
Provide maps and/or directions to travel from station to final destination. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably Rockland County, NY (Touch Vision kiosk)
  • In-Vehicle Transit Information Systems
ADA compliant next-stop announcement/ display systems, destination signs Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably LYNX in Orlando, FL
  • Published Times, Stop Locations, Transfer Routes
Provide static information concerning route, transfer locations, etc. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably LYNX in Orlando, FL
  • Multi-modal Traveler Information Systems
Provide information on transit along with other modes. Passenger Information Displays, Monitors, VMS, and sign boards to display arrival and/or departure times of buses/trains. *Kiosks. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably MTC in Oakland, CA
  • Published Routes, Schedules, and Fares
Provides published information. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably MTC in Oakland, CA
  • Itinerary Planning
Provides itineraries that cross transit agencies. Also provides information on alternate modes, such as drive alone, or park and ride. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably MTC in Oakland, CA
  • 511 Traveler Information
One stop traveler information number that provides information or redirects call to transit and other modes. Proven with Limited Deployment Maine 511 – contains real-time info for Island Explorer in Bar Harbor, ME
2. Real-Time Information
  • Pre-Trip Transit Information Systems
Similar to Static but based upon current network status and alerts. empty cell empty cell
  • Vehicle Locations and Stop/Station Arrival Times
Provide vehicle location displays and/or next vehicle expected arrival/departure times. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably CCRTA in Dennis, MA for bus locations and Tri-Met for Stop/Station Arrival Times
  • System Status and Alerts
Incorporate system status and alerts into pre-trip information. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably King County Metro in Seattle, WA (part of BusView, which is not actually operated by KC Metro)
  • Itinerary Planning (Detours and Diversions)
Adjust itineraries based upon current network status, incidents, and alerts. In Prototype FTA Multimodal Trip Planner Demonstration
  • In-Terminal/Wayside Transit Information Systems
Passenger Information Displays, Monitors, VMS, and sign boards to display arrival and/or departure times of buses/trains. empty cell empty cell
  • Vehicle Locations and Stop/Station Arrival Times
Provide vehicle location displays and/or next vehicle expected arrival/departure times. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME – Stop arrival times
  • System Status and Alerts
Incorporate system status and alerts into pre-trip information. Proven with Limited Deployment CityBus in Williamsport, PA
  • Itinerary Planning (Detours and Diversions)
Adjust itineraries based upon current network status, incidents, and alerts. In prototype FTA's Multimodal Trip Planner Demonstration
  • In-Vehicle Transit Information Systems
ADA compliant next-stop announcement/ display systems, destination signs. Proven with Limited Deployment Many variations in larger transit systems. ( e.g., SEPTA, WMATA)
  • Vehicle Locations and Stop/Station Arrival Times
Provide next stop announcements and/or expected arrival times, transfer opportunities, etc. In Conceptual Research empty cell
  • System Status and Alerts
Incorporate system status and alerts. Proven with Limited Deployment King County Metro thru BusView tool
  • Multi-modal Traveler Information Systems
Passenger Information Displays, Monitors, VMS, and sign boards to display arrival and/or departure times of buses/trains. *Kiosks. empty cell empty cell
  • Vehicle Locations and Stop/Station Arrival Times
Provide vehicle location displays for multiple transit agencies, potential transfer information, etc. In Prototype FTA Multimodal Trip Planner Demonstration
  • System Status and Alerts
Incorporate system status and alerts. In Prototype FTA Multimodal Trip Planner Demonstration
  • Itinerary Planning (Detours and Diversions)
Itinerary planning that incorporates current and expected system status and vehicle locations. In Prototype FTA Multimodal Trip Planner Demonstration
  • Personal Information Systems
Via e-mail, PDA, pagers, etc. empty cell empty cell
  • Subscription Notification
Push systems that send personalized information to subscribers of system status, departure times, alerts, etc. Proven with Limited Deployment WMATA, Transport for London
  • Request for Information
Customers request information from system on status, location, itinerary planning, etc. Proven with Limited Deployment Denver RTD Mobile-N-Ride
Automated Payment
1. Payment Media Cashless; type of media impacts transaction time, convenience, ability to integrate/coordinate.
  • Magnetic Swipe/Credit Cards
Value/information saved on magnetic strip. No on-card processing or intelligence. Requires read-write unit. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably NYCT in NY, NY and CTA in Chicago.
  • Smart Cards / Chip Cards
empty cell empty cell empty cell
  • Contact
Internal Micro-chip with content. Requires physical contact between the card and the read-write unit and must be inserted into a slot. Proven with Full Scale Deployment No examples: not recommended for transit.
  • Contact-less
Internal Micro-chip with content. Any integrated chip card that does not require insertion into a slot in a reader, but must only be held close to the reader. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably WMATA Smart Trip card
  • Hybrid/Combi-card
Combines contact and contact-less interfaces. Proven with Limited Deployment MTC in Oakland, CA (TransLink dual-interface card that is being fully deployed) and WMATA/CitiBank card (limited deployment)
2. Integration Choice of integrating within existing financial institutions, or not, and also level of regional and interagency coordination. Impacts convenience, back office functions, security
  • Financial Integration
empty cell empty cell empty cell
  • Fare Media
Agency or group of agencies issues fare media usable on any of the member agencies' services, and establishes fare pricing structure. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably MTC in Oakland (TransLink)
  • Agency/Jurisdictional Integration
(See Payment Media above) empty cell empty cell
  • Single Agency
empty cell Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably WMATA Smart Trip, which will be moving to multi agency (Baltimore MTA, VRE, etc.)
  • Multiple Agency/Regional
empty cell Proven with Limited Deployment Ventura County Transportation Commission in Ventura County, CA (Go Ventura project)
3. Services Choice of services that will accept car d. Impacts convenience, and some transaction time
  • Transit Fares Only
May also vary by type of trip or market: i.e. per trip, monthly or weekly passes, or special fares ( e.g., school, senior citizen) Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples
  • Multi – Transportation (Fares, Parking, Tolls, etc.)
empty cell Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably WMATA, although it doesn't include tolls
  • Universal Use/Multi – Application
empty cell Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably Hong Kong, China (Octopus card covers transit, retail, parking and telephone – 9 million cards in use)
Transportation Demand Management
1. Dynamic Ridesharing non-recurrent rideshare matching Proven with Limited Deployment King County Metro in Seattle
2. Automated Service Coordination (Mobility Management) Mobility management and "one stop shopping" for transportation in an are a. Combined Scheduling, AVL, fare, etc. Proven with Limited Deployment Northern Shenandoah Valley Public Mobility Program in Northern Virginia
3. Station Cars and Access Support Use of technology to extend areas accessible to transit Proven with Limited Deployment Zip Car in Cambridge, MA (at Alewife Station) – not accessible
4. Pedestrian ITS (Control and Management) Pedestrian flow monitoring and guidance to assist pedestrians within transit centers and stations or in their travel to/from the station Proven with Limited Deployment Various locations in Japan
5. Parking Management & Guidance Parking lot capacity monitoring, guidance, and guidance both within and between lot locations. Proven with Limited Deployment ParkingCarma at Rockridge BART station
6. Mulitmodal Transportation Management Centers Facility that combines traffic, transit, communications, and / or control. Proven with Full Scale Deployment Many examples, notably Rockville, MD – Ride On and traffic management in one facility


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