Technology And Mass Transportation Essay, Research Paper
At a time when mankind is applying technology in our daily life at unprecedented speed, and as the number of cars on the road is increasing and creating more congested highways than ever before, the number of people who opt to take advantage of mass transit and other alternative transportation continues to grow as well. Metro-North Railroad, the second largest commuter line in the United States, provides more than 200,000 trips each weekday and some 62 million trips per year in New York and Connecticut. “Choosing mass transit or ridesharing as a means to and from work has never had more advantages,” said Philip J. Clark, regional director for the New York State Department of Transportation. “With the increase in the number of riders on mass transit, train and bus schedules are being changed to accommodate additional riders, allowing more freedom in choosing departure times to and from work. Sharing the ride also reduces traffic congestion, is less stressful than driving alone, reduces air pollution, and allows riders the time to do other things that cannot be done while driving alone.” Choosing alternative transportation is also financially beneficial. With the rising cost of auto care, leaving a single-occupancy vehicle at home can mean big savings from the money saved on gas and insurance to wear and tear on the car.
Mass transit has also served as a way to increase capacity safely (by allowing closer vehicle spacing, with computers that react faster than humans to avoid collision), reduce travel time (by operating vehicles at higher speeds), and reduce costs. Mass transit as well requires less fuel consumption and emits less pollutant per rider than cars; requires less pavement to be laid, fewer parking garages etc.; and occupies less vehicle space on the road, therefore reducing traffic jams. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has established the Advanced Public Transportation Systems (APTS) Program as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s initiative in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). ITS, the integration of several information and control technologies, is a tool to enhance mobility, energy efficiency, and environmental protection. The APTS program was established to encourage innovation and to develop worthwhile approaches that use advanced technology to improve public transportation and ridesharing.
Computer-based vehicle tracking systems are being used extensively by transit agencies to monitor their vehicles. Over the last four years, their uses by transit systems in the U.S. has increased more than 200 percent, and there are now at least 58 automatic vehicle location (AVL) systems in operation, under installation, or planned for the future. The benefits of AVL are numerous and varied. Most systems experience more efficient and on-time operations as their schedules are improved and are better able to respond to disruptions. Safety and security typically increase, since the dispatcher knows immediately where to send help. AVL information also provides very useful inputs to passenger information and traffic signal preferential treatment systems.
Traveling at the pace of our ever technological society has allowed geographic information systems (GIS) to improve the mass transit business. GIS combines an electronic map and a relational database and allows users to visualize and analyze relationships between non-related data whose only common feature is that they are in the same basic location. A GIS has four necessary components: computer hardware, a software package, data, and people to design and use it. There are many uses for GIS in transit, including display and analysis of facilities, emergency call location, trip planning route choices, on-time performance data, and origin and destination of clients. Travelers can access this information through a variety of media, including telephones, monitors, cable television, variable message signs, kiosks and personal computers (PCs). With links to automatic vehicle location, traveler information systems, specifically for transit, are beginning to provide real-time information, such as arrival times, departure times and delays.
Automatic Passenger Counters (APCs) are an automated means for collecting data on passenger boardings by time and location and have become popular with mass transport of people. This data may be used as an addition to location data for passenger information or decisions on corrective action, future planning and scheduling, or National Transit Database reporting. Most agencies currently planning to acquire APCs are including them in their AVL systems, in order to take advantage of the location information. APCs provide much more complete data at a much lower cost than is possible using manual checkers.
Information provided includes transit routes, schedules, fares, and other pertinent information. The most common media employed are touch-tone telephones and human operators, but some newer systems also utilize PCs, the Internet (and World-Wide Web), pagers, personal communications devices, kiosks, or voice synthesizers. These systems have enabled transit agencies to reduce the time and the cost of a customer’s request for information. Information access is quicker, and many calls do not even require human intervention. The Information Intensive Transit System (IITS) aims to reduce the uncertainty of pick up and trip times (estimates would be within 60 seconds of the actual time), and also give commuters mobility once they arrive at work. The system is based on digital wireless communication, global positioning system (GPS) locating technology and high-powered computers to provide real-time service for passengers and vehicle drivers.
There has been rapid growth in advanced fare payment systems, making possible more sophisticated fare pricing systems based on factors such as distance traveled and time of day; elimination of cash and coin handling; improved security; lowered cash handling costs; automation of the accounting and financial settlement process; and improved reliability and maintainability of fare boxes. In Paris, France, Schlumberger Electronic Transactions has launched a compatible range of smart cards for ticketing applications available for all types of mass transit from bus and ferry to metro and rail networks. Smart cards enable 100% military-grade security and identification. No cash, no more taxi robberies or risks whatsoever.