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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis February 10, 2012
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Technology: A Future Look
BY GREGORY COOK, General Manager, Veolia Transportation CCT, Marietta, GA

What does the future hold in the field of public transportation as technology continues to advance?

We look to safety to be the number one priority while real-time information to the customer moves forward. I think we will see connected vehicle information from all forms of vehicles moving through cities and on the highways. And we shall see more real-time information readily available to all the many wireless gizmos we carry with us.

Connected vehicle information can alert motor vehicle operators to traffic congestion due to either accidents or magnitude of traffic. This technology could lead to automated highways that manage traffic flow through technology to maintain constant spacing between vehicles. This capability saves time, money, and lives—a key premise of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS).

Both political barriers and ownership and privacy issues must be overcome to allow the technology to prevail. The technology is here now and has proven itself to the believers; now it must impress the masses.

For example, we need to outfit entire fleets with devices that automatically alert pedestrians that a bus is turning; this technology is a good idea for trucks as well. Some systems make a beeping sound when the bus is turning, while others have a voice stating, “Caution, bus turning.”

The camera systems on board buses have become so sophisticated today with automatic downloads in the bus yards with supreme clarity and color. Many on-board cameras get set off by G force (a sudden stop or erratic turn), making them important assets in the examination process following an accident. The police deal with many of our systems, requesting video for their investigations.

Technology is the key for customers who want to know when their bus is arriving, so they can get that last cup of coffee and power down their laptop or tablet, walk out the door, and see their bus there. We are getting better at transferring real-time information on our bus systems to the various devices customers use. The latest devices are the lifeline, and more, for the younger generation, who expect to get every bit of information they need from them. The need for this bus info is imperative.

The great thing about our world today is that we never know where the next technology explosion will come from. In our industry we have learned that buses do the same job they always did, but now they have more technology than we ever dreamed. Mechanics are technicians now. Driver’s compartments are cockpits.

What’s coming next? Time will tell and we will find out about it on our smart phone or tablet.

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