Scheduling/Operations software applications allow an agency to provide more reliable, dependable, and efficient fixed route service. These software systems are used for transit service route planning, monitoring and control of transit operations, and for providing more accurate information of transit demand and ridership trends. When linked with AVLs, operational software systems can provide real-time dispatching, faster response to service disruptions, and improved coordination of service of various transit modes. When linked with AVLs and other onboard communication technologies, operational software systems are being used to reduce the amount of voice communications as well as prioritize voice and digital messages from vehicles to the control center. Among the various potential applications for these software systems, three specific emerging applications are Transfer Connection Protection (TCP) software; Expert Systems for Service Restoration; and Service Planning Applications.
Transfer Connection Protection (TCP) software
allows bus operators to inform on-board passengers whether they will be able to make a transfer to a connecting bus given current schedule adherence. This technology reduces the workload of the dispatchers as they no longer have to be directly involved in the decision-making process because the software relays the information to the drivers automatically. This software is still a relatively new technology and has not been installed at many agencies yet, however it has the potential to work for inter-agency and intermodal transfers as well.
Expert Systems for Service Restoration:
Expert systems are computer programs that process historical operating data and business rules to assist decision-makers in addressing operating problems. Expert systems for transit will use a variety of information sources to resolve service disruptions including:
- Dispatcher's real-world knowledge of bus operations;
- Existing operating rules and procedures;
- A historical database of responses to service disruptions; and
- Real-time bus status information from an AVL/CAD system
Expert systems can really be useful in complex transit environments in dense urban settings. This is because it is difficult to restore service with busy routes that can have bus-bunching and overcrowding. These operating problems often impact scheduled connections with other transit routes (interlining). The greater the complexity of the system, the more variables, and the more difficult it is for the dispatcher to solve a problem. Expert systems provide the necessary support.
Service Planning Applications
are used to analyze the efficiency of fixed-route operations using data from AVL/CAD systems. Service planning applications can perform the following functions:
- Provide an average of running time between time points to determine which route segments are not performing to schedule, by how much, and why;
- Calculate measures of headway and running time variability to determine where service and scheduling should be adjusted for efficiency and as a measure of customer service; and
- Develop new performance measures on an as-needed basis
- Map the analysis for visual evaluation based on geographical referencing