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45 resolve disputes and claims, investigate accidents, and for system. Both the AVL system and radio system use the operator training. 900 MHz frequency. AUTOMATIC VEHICLE LOCATION SYSTEM Metro Transit, Madison, Wisconsin The TCRP Synthesis 73 report on AVL Systems for Bus Tran- Madison Metro's AVL system was installed in 2004. The sit: Update describes the AVL system "as the central software AVL system is used to help dispatchers and police respond used by dispatchers for operations management that periodi- to incidents and improve bus operations including schedule cally receives real-time updates on fleet vehicle locations" adherence, and is linked with emergency audio communica- (26). AVL systems, along with CAD systems, assist dis- tions. If the operator presses the overt or covert alarm, the AVL patchers in bus fleet management by providing them with system automatically displays a map. In the dispatch center, real-time information about bus locations. AVL systems typ- the bus is shown in flashing red and a loud alarm is activated. ically consist of an onboard computer, GPS receiver, and In order to deactivate the alarm, the dispatcher is required to mobile communications. The older signpost systems are less take action. The 911 center can access the real-time maps dur- precise than GPS-based systems and cannot locate a bus that ing emergencies and incidents. has gone off-route because signposts are only deployed along a bus route. Currently, most AVL systems use GPS systems. On dispatcher displays, buses can be color-coded so that off- Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, route buses and buses that are not on time may be highlighted. St. Petersburg, Florida TODSS, described in the following section of this report, can provide additional functionality and value to AVL systems. PSTA installed an AVL system in 2006 in its fleet of 205 buses at a cost of $5 million. The system uses GPS and Although AVL systems can be expensive, they afford is connected with its emergency communications. When the agencies a wide range of uses and benefits, including faster covert or overt emergency button is pressed, the system auto- incident response, accident investigation, adjudication, and matically highlights the bus in distress (as a flashing display) policing. If an operator presses a panic button, the dispatcher on the CAD screen. There is also an audible alarm that will know the exact location of the bus in distress. Even if the sounds in the dispatch center. It has been useful for fast panic button is not pressed, the dispatcher will be able to rec- response to general crime as well as to accidents. In one case, ognize a bus that is off-route and send assistance. AVL sys- an operator had an accident and could not tell the dispatcher tems also enhance schedule adherence, provide next-bus her location. The dispatcher was able to determine that the information at bus stops and/or through mobile devices, and bus was in an accident and the operator had been incapaci- can work in conjunction with automated bus stop announce- tated. Rapid response was possible because the AVL system ments. According to TCRP Synthesis 73, for fleets with less informed the dispatcher of the location of the bus, and than 750 buses, the following equation can be used to esti- responders arrived quickly. mate capital costs for an AVL system: Contract Award = $17,577(Fleet Size) + $2,506,759 VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio, Texas Advantages VIA's AVL system was installed on VIA's bus fleet approx- imately 13 years ago. The AVL system, which uses GPS, is Location of a bus can be transmitted to central control integrated with the fleet's radio communications system. The and security/police in case of an emergency. total cost for both systems was $14 million--the majority of Decrease response times to emergencies, incidents. the cost was for the AVL system. The systems were installed in 451 buses, 210 paratransit vans, and 75 service and police vehicles. O&M costs $600,000 to $700,000 per year and Agency Experience includes software upgrades. The AVL system is used on a Greater Cleveland Regional Transportation daily basis for incident response and has greatly shortened Authority, Cleveland, Ohio response times. There are four communications channels available to the operator--regular, priority, emergency, and GCRTA's AVL system was installed in GCRTA's bus fleet covert. Each channel activates an open microphone with the several years ago and is used for multiple purposes: incident dispatch center. The emergency mode has been used several response, next-bus arrival information, fleet management, times over the past 10 years. Dispatchers are able to view improving schedule adherence, determining bus location the locations of the bus fleet and police vehicles as well, and and speed for accident investigations, and for grievance are able to advise police on the route officers should take to hearings. Although it is a stand-alone system, dispatchers use reach the bus in distress. The bus dispatchers and police are it in conjunction with emergency communications and radio located in the same operations center.