In-Vehicle Mobile Computers Improve Kentucky Transportation System

By PRESS RELEASE — April 26, 2010

To more efficiently manage the transit and human resource needs of Western Kentucky, four primary transportation providers in the region have joined to form in a cooperative effort and established Purchase Area Regional Transit (PART).

PART is a result of the U.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT) Mobility Services for All Americans (MSAA) research initiative. The MSAA initiative intends to bring service providers and funding institutions together and phase in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technology to simplify access and improve the cost-effectiveness of transit services.

The four transportation providers that comprise PART include Paducah Area Transit System (PATS), Fulton County Transit (FCTA), Murray-Calloway County Transit (MCTA), and Easter Seals West Kentucky (ESWKY). Together, these agencies provide 700,487 coordinated public and human service agency trips annually.

An essential component of PART is the Travel Management Coordination Center (TMCC), based in Paducah, which coordinates transportation needs and travel requests for the four transportation providers. PART has implemented ITS technology in the TMCC, which connects the four providers to organize and manage transportation requests.

All four providers are connected by a centralized computer network. The TMCC uses ITS technology including Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL), Computer-Aided Scheduling and Dispatching (CASD), and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to improve dispatch efficiency, ease customer access and enable coordination and resource sharing between the agencies.

The centralized computer network communicates with all the provider's vehicles through in-vehicle computers, using Mentor's Mobile Data Computer (MDC) and Mentor Ranger. With recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding, Paducah Area Transit upgraded their in-vehicle mobile computers from MDCs to Ranger. The MDCs were transferred to the vehicles of the three other transit agencies.

The mobile computers capture trip information electronically and wirelessly send it to the central computer network. If there are changes to the schedule or important alerts drivers need to be aware of, dispatchers can send messages directly to individual vehicles.

"The advantage of this initiative is that it creates a regional model that can be duplicated elsewhere. A coordinated transportation system eliminates inefficient and unessential services and improves personal mobility for everyone in the Purchase Area region," explains Brent Ritchie, Regional Sales Manager Transit Southeast for Mentor Engineering.

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