New technology installed on Metro Transit buses

Andy Skemp

Today, 253 “thinking buses” were launched onto the streets of the Twin Cities.
Two antennae on top of each bus act as links to a central computer that monitors the vehicle’s location and punctuality. Inside the bus, a laptop computer displays this information to the driver.
Route 16, which runs through campus, is one of the first routes whose buses will be implementing the new system.
“We often have buses bunch up on that route,” said Bob Gibbons, public relations manager for Metro Transit.
“This program will help us monitor efficiently and assess whether or not the current timetables are effective,” he added.
The buses are one of Metro Transit’s many projects that make up Orion Program Intelligent Transportation Systems.
Orion has been underway for more than a year and is headed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. It is a combined effort between Metro Transit, Lockheed Martin Canada, 3M and ManTech Systems Solutions Corporation.
All of the hardware for the positioning system was manufactured and installed by 3M.
Marsha Lasher, public relations representative for 3M, said this is not the first time the corporation has installed the positioning system.
3M has been marketing the system for about five years and first installed it in buses in Napa, Calif. The Twin Cities is the fifth city to utilize the technology.
The positioning technology is not the only new technology to be adapted by the Twin Cities busing system.
In about two months, customers can find the nearest and fastest route by making a simple phone call.
A new trip-planning system, currently being installed by ManTech, will allow employees to use a computerized system rather than consulting maps as they currently do. The system will also allow employees to e-mail or mail the directions to the customer.
The new features were announced at a press conference Thursday morning.

Andy Skemp covers transportation and environment and welcomes comments at [email protected] or phone calls at 627-4070 x3238.