The Greater Toronto Transit Authority is rolling out a Web-based vehicle tracking system that will allow it to better monitor its approximately 300-unit bus fleet. GO Transit inked a five-year, $500,000 deal last November with Toronto-based Grey Island Systems International Inc. to install Grey Island’s real-time, Internet-based GPS/AVL and telematics information systems, called InterFleet.
The GPS/AVL units will be deployed over Rogers Wireless Inc.’s GPRS cellular network. The GPRS network will carry the information from the unit on the bus back to the servers hosted at Grey Island’s site. The systems will run in parallel with GO Transit’s existing radio frequency network.
The majority of Grey Island’s business comes from public sector departments such as emergency services, public works and waste management. Guelph Transit recently chose Grey Island to implement its NextBus real-time passenger information system. GO Transit has been testing the units on two of its buses over the last couple of years. Right now if GO Transit wants to know where a vehicle is, dispatch will contact the driver. With InterFleet, GO Transit, which covers the surrounding regions of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), will be able to know where a bus is anytime by logging into a portal that connects back to Grey Island’s data centre, where the information is hosted.
GO moves people, not data
“We’re not the experts,” said George Goulas, GO Transit’s equipment development officer. “We’re good at moving people from home to work. When it comes to hosting stuff we may do it down the road. Right now, we’ll let somebody else host it.”
Lisa Hunter, vice-president of sales at Grey Island, said the majority of the company’s clients opt for a hosted solution, but added the compnay does offer off-site solutions.
“People appreciate having their data managed by a third party,” said Hunter. “They don’t have to have IT staff that are managing the solution. Third-party data becomes very important when you’re looking at any question of data integrity.”
With better tracking capabilities, GO Transit will be able to improve the management of bus maintenance and repair. Buses are subject to inspection intervals based on the number of kilometres driven. The GPS/AVL unit will notify GO Transit’s maintenance department when the vehicle is approaching inspection.
Another key benefit will be the enhancement of driver and passenger security, said Goulas, who is managing this project. Bus drivers are currently equipped with a panic button on the bus that they can press in the event of an emergency. When pressed, the button sends a message to the vehicle’s destination sign to change to, “Call 911.”
The new system will also allow GO Transit to generate daily audit reports that, for example, lets employees know where the fleets are located at midnight.