The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has reselected Mentor Engineering and Stratagen Systems as their Transit ITS technology providers through 2014. A long-time pr-oponent of ITS technologies, the MBTA has been using Mentor and StrataGen's solution since 2003.
The MBTA's system includes Mentor Ranger in-vehicle computers and Stratagen ADEPT software in the office. Ranger provides the MBTA with turn-by-turn navigation, voice and data communications, and automatic vehicle location capabilities. The MBTA also uses Mentor XMobile Manager (XMM) for easy over-the-air programming and troubleshooting of Ranger.
Completing more that 1.9 million trips a year, the MBTA provides paratransit service to sixty towns and cities in and around Boston. Their paratransit service, called THE RIDE, is contracted to three companies: Greater Lynn Senior Services, Joint Venture TTI/YCN, and Veterans Transportation Services.
The ITS solution has helped the MBTA provide exceptional customer service, even as their ridership numbers have grown exponentially. Using automatic vehicle location (AVL) to track RIDE vehicles in real-time has significantly improved operations at the MBTA. Says Paul Strobis, Assistant Manager, Paratransit Contract Operations for MBTA: "Being able to tell the customer where the vehicle is instead of guessing has been a huge improvement. Instead of getting the old, 'Your ride is five minutes away or right around the corner,' now we can say, 'Your vehicle's on Smith Street, with an ETA of three minutes.'"
Paul has also been able to track many of the changes the MBTA has experienced, such as on-time performance increases, with the accurate data the system generates for reporting. He says, "The information we get back from the AVL technology absolutely gives me a solid feeling about our on-time performance data. Previous to this system the reporting was being done manually and the MBTA had to take at face value that what was being reported was accurate. Now it's all uniform, accurate reporting."
With the help of an ITS solution, the MBTA now reports their on-time performance is exceeding 99% within their 30 minute on-time guarantee, up almost .5% from 2008-2009. This improvement is one of the factors that have led to a 32% decrease in customer complaints in the past year.
In the future, the MBTA plans to use technology to provide more sophisticated services to their riders such as online trip scheduling and web and phone-based 'Where's My Ride?' look-up capabilities.