Since being implemented in November 2017, the Mobitec/Consat MX4 computer system on Sydney’s Northern Beaches strikingly bright-yellow MAN doubledeck B-line bus system arguably showcases the world-leading passenger information technology to the domestic market, says managing director Bob Barwick.
Mobitec successfully secured a contracted Service Level Agreement (SLA) with Transport for NSW to implement and manage its passenger information system on this route.
“The system has operated without a hitch for the past six months, on both the buses and the bus stops. The MX4 computer technology is state-of-the-art and is underpinned by this solid performance. As well as implementing the on-board and off-board systems, we provided Transport for NSW the back-office system to manage and monitor buses and bus stops. We also integrated into their real-time open data hub. The system provides them reports on anything they want; for example, they can actually see what the bus stops were displaying at a particular time or when a bus pulled up.”
With a 30-year relationship between Mobitec and Constat, they are confident this success will pave the way for a lot more business in the future.
“Transport for NSW will soon be introducing ‘Headway’ in the next phase of the B-Line and the system we have just implemented has this capability already built-in. As the driver is an integral part of the passenger experience, they can take advantage of this technology to plan in real-time. This information can also be used by the central control room, and even displayed in real-time to the passengers on the bus or at the next bus stop.
“The system also has a tool for driver behaviour. Unlike other systems which are hybrid and only give a basic solution, Mobitec/Constat consider the bus chassis and specific route information to give a more realistic experience. Determining the difference between chassis on fuel consumption is valuable for the business, while real-time push notifications are important to inform passengers of events such as Service Disruptions.
“Other requirements by Transport for NSW included static LED displays for passengers who are vision-impaired.
“One of our IT specialists, Kurt Hennessy, is himself vision-impaired and his input into this area of development has been paramount to its success.
“Installing static LEDs eliminates the common flickering that occurs with a traditional multiplex sign. These small flickers are most often not seen by anyone except those who are vision-impaired, making it hard for them to read important route information. The inclusion of the static LED signs has been a real game-changer for this group of commuters.
“Plus, we’ve added the text-to-speech buttons at the B-Line stops, which repeats what’s on the PID sign in a digitised voice; it can also be configured to use a voice actor if desired.”
A FULL RANGE
Mobitec’s expertise spans the entire transport system from bus-stops, driver and route information, all the way to depot and business reporting systems, according to the company.
“We’re really proud of our 55-inch screens that function like a help centre for passengers”, said Barwick. “Having real-time push notifications displayed gives passengers the ultimate confidence in the transport system.”
“Another innovation is our solar-powered timetable screens that can go anywhere. These are popular in Germany, where their use has improved their passengers’ experience and the integration with the back office has provided valuable information to show where timetable efficiencies can be improved.
“Couple this with reporting on driver performance and fuel consumption and it’s no wonder our system is attracting so much interest.”
Drivers themselves are also well-catered for with one point of log-in and hands-free communication. This text-to-speech technology is a safety feature that eliminates the need for a handheld radio unit and there is a ticket machine process already in development for release in the near future, according to Mobitec.
The company has some very smart products that have elevated levels of adjustability and functionality.
“The MX4 system is ahead of its time,” said Barwick. “This system is helping to future-proof Transport for NSW and setting the standard for the rest of the Australian states.