Transit Services Mission

MicroServices provides transit related services including:

  • Project review analysis and management.
  • Transit data and fact based planning and cost analyses
  • Organizational strategy for using systems to improve business process.
  • Performance reporting and management information systems
  • Contractor performance and out-sourcing analyses
  • Cost reduction strategy studies
  • Transit and paratransit operations data analysis and service optimization
  • Implementation and support of the Fare Data Management application

We are devoted to providing clients with innovative quality services. MicroServices offers ongoing partnership with our clients, continuing to develop innovative and more efficient methods of conducting business. Our  applications and  services are designed to meet  transit industry needs – timely and accurate operational and performance data based information for improved "fact based" management decision-making.

MicroServices' goal is to be revenue neutral. We strive to reduce your costs or improve your processes to level which will more than compensate for the cost of our services.

 

A sign of the times?

"The Passenger advisory signs will be the issue which causes the most problems on this project."
Was it a self fulfilling prophecy? I don't believe so. Read on and let the facts help you decide.
Things to consider when installing an electric sign in a public place.

Left hand not sure of Right ones location.

When several agencies are involved in a construction project things can and do go wrong.

Is that for power to the signs or a ticket machine? The Blueprints didn't show it and the Contractors were unavailable. No one in any of the several agencies could answer the question. and the next day it was poured. OOOPS!

Yes I did ask him... No he had no Idea.

Who Knew

If the electrician can't tell you , who do you ask?

 

 

So after the Pour this is what we got.

 

A tripping hazard: Sometimes when you are trying to wave down the train they think you are waving at the train and they keep on  going.

 

 

 

Hansel and Gretel

No that was not their real names, but the Pair of technicians came from DRI to set up our breadcrumbs by driving our routes.

Their job was to establish the base map layer of routes and stops.They also made the first attempt at setting up arrival and departure trigger boxes. 

Modems

Is a modem a modem? or do we have to buy all new modems?

About a third of our fleet already had modems and cell net accounts.

We had to make sure our modems would be compatible.

Cell service We added  35+ new data accounts.

Servers

When can you send the server?  A: Soon Q:how soon?

Interfaces what is an interface?

A: A connection both physical and logical between the DR600 and The Farebox.

So what happens on an interface? A: data packages are 'Picked off' the "J1708" standard vehicle data bus by a device waiting for those signals..

What is J1708? This is a standard set of numbered data elements which when available are standardized . Not all data is there but when it it it must fit the standards.

What is the physical Interface from the J1708 to the Farebox? It is a piece of two conductor cable with a plug on it. Less than $20.00 in materials.

What Do the Farebox folks have to do to make it work?

A: They need to modify the config file which identifies the J1708 signals to listen for.

How much will we have to pay for this ? $30,000  sounds like a lot of money for some # 18 wire.

Laptops

Workstations.


The standard defines a 2-wire 18 gage wire cable that can run up to 130 feet (40 m) and operates at 9600 bit/s. A message is composed of up to 21 characters, unless the engine is stopped and the vehicle is not moving in which case transmitters are allowed to exceed the 21 byte max message length. Messages start with a Message ID (MID) character and finish with a checksum at the end. Characters are transmitted in the common 8N1 format.

AVL Project Analysis

This Is the first article in a series describing the progress of an AVL project.
I intend to document the project from my perspective. The theme is chronological.
The intent is to provide some shared information and assist other agencies in making wise choices.
Spring  2008
I was invited to attend a meeting with the Transit manager "C" and the vendor project manager "J"

Players

Introductions:

The Agency

"Westcat"  Role is to manage the installation and integration of the AVL into it's internal operations and to meet the requirements set forth in the MTC specification.
"C" the dedicated ,competent forward thinking Transit manager.
"R"the Transit planner and legitimizing user (if its not working for him , it's not working)
"J" A friendly apparently experienced and dedicated Project manager for the vendor.
"MTC" the regional transit administration. project sponsor and funder.
"Me" Certified systems analyst UC Berkeley. 38 years experience in technical projects.
The Agency is one of the smaller agencies in the region. 50-55 Fixed route vehicles .
Smaller fleet of Dial A ride.
Project description background.
The project mission is to provide accurate information to the passenger on the street at selected stops.
The requiremetns include the transmission of predictions from the AVL to the MTC's Regional transit information system. "511"
The Requirements document was provided by the MTC .
 
Project Press release excerpt

DALLAS -- DRI Corporation (DRI) (NASDAQ: TBUS), a digital communications technology leader in the domestic and international surface transportation and transit security markets, announced today that its Digital Recorders, Inc. (DR) subsidiary, based in Durham, N.C., has received an order for intelligent transportation systems valued at approximately $551,000 from Western Contra Costa Transit Authority (WestCAT) in California.
David L. Turney, the Company's Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, said: "DR has been contracted to manufacture and deliver intelligent transportation systems for the WestCAT bus fleet. Products ordered include the Digital Recorders[R] automatic vehicle location system, Talking Bus[R] automatic voice annunciation system and OTvia[R] software, which provides passenger advisory information for display signs - some of which will be supplied by DRI's TwinVision na, Inc. subsidiary in Durham, N.C. The OTvia[R] system also will provide connectivity to WestCAT's Regional 511 system, which is an exciting tool that enables passengers to telephone 5-1-1 to learn about their bus schedule. The project will commence in first quarter 2008 and is expected to conclude in fourth quarter 2008."
 
Project structure
 
The budget is limited and fixed. 
$551,000
 
 
Project estimated timeline 1Q 2008 - 4Q 2008
How does a project get to be 3 years late? AnswerOne day at a time.
The agency also had additional requirements not included in the original specification.
Agency requirement, was to create an interface from the AVL to the Farebox.
The goal of this interface was to stamp all fares with route stop time and date data.
 
My role
To monitor the projects technical progress and to represent the agency in technical aspects of contract delivery.
I have been the primary Technical services provider to the agency since 1991.
Stay tuned.
 
  When Is a Project a Catastrophe?
          Schedule:
  3 years overdue
 
          Budget:  
Consultant costs exceed expectations
Ongoing maintenance and warranty costs not esablished as part of the project contract.
 
Software Quality
 
User experience Client / Server = Slow Clunky as in several minutes to load and display data
Technical accuracy  = Examples of vehicle speed recorded at 0ver 200 mph GPS position in the middle of the bay, Time offset by 1.5 minutes so a vehicle in a 25 mph zone has recorded speed of 65 MPH which was true a minute and a half earlier when it was on the freeway.
 
Code quality = Memory errors / Math Errors /Time errors
Data design = Spagetti very complex
Data errors
Often Prediction errors end to end data flow problems
Server problems = Unknown history capacity  History versus performance issues  the longer the history the slower the application response time.
Database issues
No support for backup plans figure it out yourself.
Security Logins logins 1-5 with no end user or admin interface provided in the application. Failed  Login  count downs to invalidate login. you miss your login 3 times and you have to call suport for  a remote session.
 
Maintainability
 
Networks issues
Hardware / Firmware /Interface / legality certification safety
Hardware quality GPS Clock date issues cancelled Stored value cards
          Keeping a Practical Perspective
Public success looks like "reasonably accurate predictions  "and  no increased call volume complaints etc a perception of better service
 
 Summary
 
The   public facing surfaces of the project are 
  1. Signs on board
  2. Signs on street
  3. Phone / 511
  4. Farebox & Tickets
  5. Web site
The Agency facing surfaces are
The Client the Server 
The ability to change stops schedules or have  holiday schedules.
No interface was provided to allow system changes by the end users or the admin users.
 
Data interface to farebox.
The Hardware
Networks
Ongoing telemetry costs 
Warranty, maintenance contract
Onsite burden to maintenance personnel.
     
       1 Stop
       2  Assign an Evaluator
       3 Evaluate the Project     
       4 Evaluate the Team
       5 Define Minimum Goals
       6 Can Minimum Goals Be Achieved?   
       7 Rebuild the Team
       8 Risk Analysis
       9  Revise the Plan  
       10 Create an Early Warning System
       

 

More Articles...

  1. 511 Next Bus Technology

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