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Awards Bus Transit Improvements Transit Planning

TransitMaster upgrade improves the customer experience 

Posted by Marisa Helms | Thursday, November 09, 2017 3:15:00 PM

Most customers are unaware of all the behind-the-scenes technology that goes into catching a bus.

In fact, at the core of every rider experience, and the decisions we make to improve operational efficiency, is a computer system called TransitMaster.

Bus Operations has been using TransitMaster since 2002 to provide the entire agency with data that can be used to share real-time bus departures with customers, deploy extra buses when operators need support due to extreme weather, events or traffic, and write more accurate schedules.

And soon, an enhanced version of TransitMaster will enable buses to communicate location data more accurately and faster than ever before, adding up to significant gains for customers and staff.

Manager of Technology Systems Gary Nyberg and Transit Control Center (TCC) staff are systematically rolling out the TransitMaster upgrade over the next couple of months to all 950 buses. Each bus, which is equipped with an onboard cellular router, will communicate location data to TCC and NexTrip. NexTrip is the customer-facing system that feeds the mobile app, the website and the electronic schedule displays located at various bus stops and shelters.

Nyberg said when the upgrade is fully implemented by the end of 2017, buses will be able to send their location message every five to 10 seconds.

“That’s a huge improvement from the current 30 to 60 seconds,” Nyberg said. “It enhances a customer’s experience by improving NexTrip prediction accuracy and reliability, and therefore, their trust in Metro Transit.”

The latest TransitMaster improvements also provide the foundation for another key technology called Transit Signal Priority (TSP). TSP improves on-time performance because it allows a bus to request a longer green light or request that a red light be turned to green.

The TransitMaster upgrade also uses an embedded gyroscope sensor to improve accuracy when a bus is at the Mall of America, at Transit Centers, or whenever a bus is otherwise not receiving a valid GPS signal. A gyroscope is a small device that always maintains its direction and orientation to the earth, so whenever a bus’s GPS device loses its GPS signal, the gyroscope kicks in and continues to send accurate location data to TCC and NexTrip.

“Now we’ll know even more precisely where every bus is, everywhere, at all times,” Nyberg said. “That’s key, and it further improves the way we can manage our system and the accuracy of the data it provides to operations, planners, and to our customers.”

Other teams also rely on TransitMaster data and will benefit from the system upgrade.

Street Operations uses TransitMaster’s real-time information to better understand operators’ experience with delays. Service Development analyzes TransitMaster data to adjust schedules and routes. And Customer Relations staff use TransitMaster to respond to a customer who calls because their bus didn’t show up. With TransitMaster, Customer Relations staff can look at a live screen to see where the bus is in that moment and give the customer an answer in about 30 seconds.

“TransitMaster’s improvements are invisible to the customer, but they make us better able to deliver on the promise of service," Nyberg said.

Editor's Note: Nyberg’s leadership with TransitMaster and other important technology projects led to his TCC colleagues secretly nominating him for an Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Minnesota award. In October, Nyberg was presented with a 2017 ITS Minnesota Public Sector Achievement Award in recognition for his outstanding contributions to the ITS community and for improving the efficiency of public transportation operations in Minnesota.

Awards

Metro Transit operator, mobile fare app, win awards from MPTA 

Posted by Marisa Helms | Tuesday, October 17, 2017 9:42:00 AM

Recently-retired Operator Renee Stafford was celebrated as the state’s Bus Operator of the Year by the Minnesota Public Transit Association this week.

The MPTA also recognized Metro Transit with a Management Innovation award for its new mobile fare app.

Both awards were presented at MPTA’s annual conference in St. Cloud on October 16.

Stafford, #603, retired in June, exactly 41 years after her career at Metro Transit began. When she retired, Stafford was Metro Transit’s longest-serving female operator.

Stafford said she was honored by the award, even though she never sought recognition or felt she’d done anything out of the ordinary.

“I just treated people nicely and tried to do my best at my job,” she said. “It feels amazing that my service and the things that I did people noticed. It’s wonderful to be recognized.”

Stafford took interest in becoming an operator while riding the bus to and from classes at the University of Minnesota. She quickly grew to enjoy the work, joking with friends that it was like driving her living room around the city.

Stafford spent the last seven years of her career on Route 9, becoming friends with many of her longtime customers. She was also well-liked by her peers at Nicollet Garage, where she spent her career.

This is the third time a Metro Transit operator has been named MPTA’s Bus Operator of the Year. Retirees Jerry Olson and Tony Taylor were honored in 2014 and 2013, respectively.

Also on Monday, the MPTA presented Metro Transit with a Management Innovation award recognizing the benefits its mobile fare app has brought to customers.

Customers who download the app can buy and use a variety of fare products on their mobile devices, providing instant and cash-free access to transit. Customers show operators or transit police a dynamic display to prove they’ve paid their fare.

Since being introduced last November, app usage has grown 30 percent a month. More than $400,000 in fares have been purchased through the fare since the beginning of 2017, including $100,000 in sales in August alone.

A Line BRT Awards C Line Rapid Bus Network

​Roth recognized as top transit professional 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Saturday, September 16, 2017 7:56:00 AM

Arterial BRT Manager Katie Roth, included in Mass Transit magazine’s 2017 Top 40 Under 40 list.A champion of Metro Transit’s efforts to bring rapid bus service to the region has been recognized as one of the transit industry’s top young professionals.

Arterial BRT Manager Katie Roth is among those recognized in Mass Transit magazine’s 2017 Top 40 Under 40 list. The list recognizes professionals who have made “significant contributions” to the transit industry.

“Out of more than 160 nominations, these chosen professionals have proven records of accomplishments, making a difference at their companies or transit agencies, in their communities and in the industry,” said Leah Harnack, Mass Transit’s Executive Editor.

As a manager in Metro Transit’s Bus Rapid Transit/Small Starts Project Office, Roth, 32, leads a team of planners, engineers, consultants and outreach staff planning future rapid bus lines. She also helps coordinate across divisions to introduce the new service. 

The region’s first rapid bus line, the A Line, opened in 2016 with faster, more frequent service on Snelling Avenue, Ford Parkway and 46th Street. Planning is now underway for the C Line, which will largely replace existing Route 19 local service in 2019.

Roth’s career at Metro Transit began as in intern in Service Development in 2006. As a Senior Transit Planner at SRF Consulting Group, shehelped complete a study of a regional rapid bus network that would cover 100 miles and see an estimated 160,000 average weekday boardings. She rejoined Metro Transit in 2012.

Roth has also presented at several local and national conferences and been active in WTS Minnesota, a group that supports women in the transportation industry.

“This recognition is humbling because it shows the importance of building out the rapid bus system,” said Roth, a daily transit rider who lives in Minneapolis. “I love coming to work every day knowing that I’m helping make transit better for thousands of people in the region.”

Several Metro Transit employees have been named to Mass Transit’s Top 40 Under 40 list since it was initiated a decade ago. 

Past honorees include Assistant Transportation Manager Chang Yang, Kristin Thompson, Assistant Director-Scheduling, Analysis and Data Collection, Capt. Jim Franklin and Charles Carlson, a Senior Manager in the Bus Rapid Transit/Small Starts Project Office.

   > Top 40 Under 40: Katie Roth

   > Metro Transit Awards & Recognition

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