City uses technology to track buses, emergency vehicles
In April, Glendale, Calif., launched a project for the city’s buses and emergency vehicles that combines automatic vehicle location (AVL), transit signal priority, signal pre-emption and real-time passenger information. As a result of the project, buses and emergency vehicles can reach their destinations faster than before.
The project’s goal is to provide faster emergency services, increase transit passenger satisfaction, improve fleet efficiency and better use the city’s existing transportation infrastructure. To accomplish that goal, Glendale first installed global positioning system (GPS) tracking hardware from Emeryville, Calif.-based NextBus Information Systems on 16 buses.
The hardware gathers vehicle location information every 90 seconds or 200 meters, whichever comes first, and it allows bus system engineers to view the vehicles on an electronic map. The equipment also gives signal priority to buses at 15 intersections along a downtown test corridor.
With information from the GPS trackers, system engineers can predict with 95 percent accuracy when the buses will arrive at each bus stop. The city broadcasts the arrival times on vandal-proof signs at two of its most heavily trafficked outdoor bus stops, and it provides real-time information through the company’s Web site.
After GPS trackers were installed, Glendale then focused on traffic signal pre-emption for emergency vehicles. With the help of Anaheim, Calif.-based Meyer Mohaddes Associates, the city installed GPS tracker suites on two fire trucks, an ambulance and a battalion command vehicle. The wireless trackers relay the vehicles’ locations, speeds and directions of travel to the software that controls the city traffic light system. The software provides green lights to the vehicles along the demonstration corridor, speeding the vehicles’ response to emergencies.
The project took approximately four months to complete, and the city plans to expand the project in the fall. Additional buses will be equipped with tracking devices, and additional emergency vehicles will have signal pre-emption capabilities.