In a Request for Proposals released April 13th, Sound Transit outlined a set of system upgrades for its passenger information systems (PIMS). The most visible component of these systems are the realtime arrival information for ST trains and buses, but they also include backend systems that collect and process the data. This project has three major components: real-time prediction enhancements, better schedule integration, and cross mode messaging, integrating data from multiple transit modes into a single enterprise system. The contract will replace the Public Address system and the station Variable Message Signs currently in place for Link, Sounder and Tacoma Link. Bringing all of this data in to a single combined system may require new or augmented data collection equipment (e.g. tracking or passenger counters).
Passenger-facing improvements include provisions for communicating train size, passenger load, and out-of-service indicators, among a long list of other datapoints. Information would be displayed on station signage, the Sound Transit website, on One Bus Away, and in GTFS/R feeds that interface with third-party services such as Google Transit.
East Link’s budget already funds augmenting the current system to support multiple lines serving the same station. The current two-minute warning announcements would be modified to announce the train’s destination and line color. If the RFP failed for some reason, the existing project would still support multiple lines, while riders would not enjoy any benefits of a more modern information system.
Sound Transit notes that the current Link passenger information system is approaching the end of its life (though some readers may proclaim that has already passed). Replacing the entire PIMS is a disruptive task and Sound Transit has wisely identified that the best time to complete a major overhaul would be in conjunction with the opening of East Link, when major modifications would have been taking place anyways.
The project is backed by lifecycle replacement funds that periodically repair and replace aging equipment as well as a portion of ST3’s technological innovations budget. This RFP covers Link, Tacoma Link and Sounder. Future RFPs will bring ST Express and ST’s future BRT lines in to this system. The RFP boldly states that “multiple, unintegrated systems does not satisfy the [requirements],” but then admits that implementation may come in multiple phases, thus diluting–or at least postponing–the very goal this and the future RFP set out to achieve.
Work on the project is scheduled to begin in 2019; proposers have been asked to offer implementation schedules that deliver benefits as early as realistically achievable. However, some aspects have hard deadlines to coincide with the launch of East Link service.
The full list of features the contract is looking to provide looks like it was lifted out of STB comment threads, and is listed after the break:
The System shall display vehicle arrivals and relevant details including but not limited to:
- Route/Line Color
- Arrival or Departure Time
- Indication if train is out of service
Provide visual and audio announcements when vehicles are close to the station, examples include but are not limited to:
- Train arriving in two minutes
- Train now arriving
Track/platform # for next train
Display the track or platorm that the next train will arrive on. Mandatory for Sounder and may also apply for Link at terminus or in single tracking conditions.
Display information about how full a car/vehicle is based on passenger load (APC). Provide number of cars in multi-car train consist.
- Service announcements (scheduled, event initiated)
- Service announcements (ad hoc remote & ad hoc station/platform driven)
Destination/route being served
Provide customers with detail on the destination and route, even if the train is deviating from a standard schedule. If the vehicle is not on regular route, indicate where it is going. (example: airport to Beacon Hill only). Applies to shuttle train and multiple lines.
Informational messages should provide non-emergency information such as:
- Elevator & escalator outages
- Changes to circulation (routes through the station)
- Reminder: tap on/off
- Entering fare paid zone
Display service alerts from transit partners, example Amtrak delays. In the future, new partner alert systems will be added, example KCM alerts that impact customers leaving University of Washington Station.
Location or station specific alerts
The system shall allow display of location or station specific information.
When a customer uses an emergency button or emergency phone on board Sounder, the car number where the emergency is located should be displayed on signs.
- Internal signs alert the conductor
- External signs tell emergency personnel which car they should approach when the train is arriving at the station. Current functionality displays the car number on all external destination signs.
Partner agency train arrivals
Display Amtrak train arrival information on Sound Transit signs. Display Sound Transit train arrival information on signs controlled by Amtrak. In both cases, customers must have enough detail to determine whether the arriving train is for Sounder or Amtrak Cascades.
Signs shall display predicted bus arrival information. Bus predictions may be generated by the PIMS system (e.g. Sound Transit BRT services). Other predictions may be generated by partner agencies such as KCM. Signs at a given location shall display bus predicted arrivals based user configured parameters (e.g. bus routes).
Direction of travel
Provide the ability to display direction of travel or bearing for train.
Next station information for onboard signs
Display information next station and station arrival information.
Provide the ability to display available parking and/or parking capacity details.
Vision for the Future
The following items are not in scope for this effort. They are included to help proposers understand the direction the Agency wants extend passenger information.
- Real-time ETA to destination (onboard signage)
- Bike holding capacity
- Interactive content
- Map of vehicle locations with real-time movement
- Traffic incidents
- Motion/Activity based content
- Bike locker capacity
- Platform capacity and wait times
Interested parties hav until June 29 to submit a proposal after which staff will review the proposals and present the best option to the board for approval.