that the operator is in distress. When the operator pressed the button, the system created an urgent message for the dispatcher that took priority over all others; immediately recorded the location and direction of the vehicle, and activated both an outside sign requesting help and a microphone on the bus.

The operator was not alert enough to respond to the dispatcher's efforts to talk to him, but an off-duty radio central supervisor noticed the sign on the front of the bus, and stopped to assist and recognized the situation. The dispatcher contacted police who immediately dispatched a rescue squad/EMT vehicle immediately, which reached the exact location within moments and transported the operator to the hospital. He was subsequently able to return to work, fully recovered, thanks in large part to the responsiveness of emergency team.

This quick response, made possible by the CAD/AVL system, is believed to have saved the operator's life.

Tangible benefits

The organization is already experiencing savings on deadhead time between the station and the first/last revenue points. As the result of using Orbital data, one modification made to the amount of time operators are given between the station and their first revenue point resulted in savings of more than 3,000 annualized hours of service were saved, or about $165,000 per year.

Web Itinerary Planning

COTA's transit information Web site now allows travelers to view COTA schedules and bus stop data by line or stop. It can display time points or all stops along selected routes. Visitors can view all trips that pass through a particular stop, locate COTA bus stops within a predefined distance of specific locations, and view detailed information about selected bus stops (e.g. shelter availability, wheelchair accessibility).

The site also provides trip planning assistance by allowing users to generate detailed travel itineraries quickly by entering the starting point and the destination. Users can choose from a list of "landmark" destinations, such as churches, malls, hotels, etc. Travelers can optimize trip-planning results using predefined criteria, including lowest fare, lowest travel time, and fewest transfer points. The site then displays the map of the itinerary including overview, origin and destination. Users can even create personalized pages that include frequently used routes, stops, and itineraries.

Once users generate a concise written itinerary, it can be printed or saved in the user's personalized web page.

On the Horizon

With a solid infrastructure foundation now in full production, COTA is moving into the next phase of the ITS plan. The Authority is in the final stages of negotiations for the procurement of an Automatic Annunciator system that will incorporate devices that store and play prerecorded messages, including the automatic annunciation of bus stops, to be installed on COTA fixed route vehicles. The Authority is also in the process of completing a requirements definition for Automatic Passenger Counters (APC) that will equip various fixed route fleet vehicles with devices that count passengers getting on and off the bus while recording the time of the occurrence by line, trip and block. The data collected is compiled within mandatory reports that are submitted to the FTA and incorporated within the National Transit Database.

Future project initiatives will include Vehicle Component Monitoring, Transit Signal Priority, Advanced Traveler Information Systems, and Smart Card deployment.

COTA has also engaged in functional testing of the Trapeze Highwire application to publish schedule, itinerary, and real time information to multiple Internet appliances (ie. cell phones, PDA's, pagers, kiosks). Once deployed, this functionality will enable users to go online and see in real time the exact location and updated arrival times of specific buses.