A public-transit oriented smart phone application using V2I (Vehicle-To-Infrastructure) communications was tested successfully at the ITS-America 2016 conference in San Jose, setting the stage for further development.
The “Smart Stop” app uses Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) Wi-Fi technology to allow waiting bus passengers and buses to communicate with each other.
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) teamed up with Smart Stop developers Renesas Electronics America Inc. and eTrans Systems to test the app through three different demonstrations with 40-foot buses.
“The test went very well,” said Gary Miskell, chief information officer for the Authority. “This was the proof of concept. Now that we passed we can get funding (and move forward) on real development.”
The waiting passenger uses her smart phone or a kiosk touch screen to send a stop request with the Smart Stop app. That stop request informs the Santa Clara system she is at a specific stop waiting for a specific bus.
The stop request goes to a Road Side Unit that transmits it to the bus on-board unit which generates an audible and visual alert to the driver.
Smart Stop will notify the passenger through her smartphone or kiosk that the bus is approaching her stop.
For connected vehicle proponents the success of the test shows that DSRC can be used to make roads safer and more efficient. Smart Stop is an example of V2I technology that connects a fleet system with infrastructure (the Road Side Unit) by using Wi-Fi communications.
That’s great for the techies, but Miskell is looking to Smart Stop as something that can help him solve a day-to-day problem.
“Sometimes drivers don’t see the waiting person. But a stop request makes the driver stop,” he said.
That gives passengers a greater sense of control, which all transit riders appreciate, but it is “especially important for those with disabilities,” said Miskell.
That suggests that the app’s capabilities might be expanded to better serve passengers with special needs, such as those in wheel chairs and those with bikes.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, cautions Miskell.
In the near term he’d like to conduct a test of Smart Stop on select VTA routes with a limited number of passengers.
“We’ll get some customer feedback, track usage, and take it to the steering committee,” said Miskell.
If they like it, the VTA could put more funding behind the technology. And that’s when you get DSRC V2I technology solving day to day problems.