U.S. Transportation Innovation Means Mobile WiFi is on the Move [Infographic]

Mobile WiFi SinglePointIn today’s connected world, the demand for WiFi access is greater than ever. With ridership growing across the board—from commuter rails to charter buses—remaining competitive is a matter of meeting this demand. Along with public transportation, emergency service personnel find increased value in WiFi-enabled vehicles. Across the country, connectivity in different modes of transportation is a reality. The following infographic explores how mobile WiFi has improved the transportation industry and meets the needs of not just riders, but service providers as well. It also shares how you can make the most of mobile WiFi solutions in your fleet.

SinglePoint_Infographic_Mobile WiFi Public Transit


Leveraging Technology to Improve America’s Transportation Infrastructure

Montrose-Brown Line mass transit wifiTransportation challenges often seem impossibly expensive to solve. For instance, accidents caused by driver error would seem to require costly solutions, such as extended employee training, and HR interventions. Capacity limits appear to demand major investments in system expansion. And it seems that America faces a huge upcoming bill for upgrading our aging transportation infrastructure. Yet more and more transit leaders are positing that technology can solve some of these problems without requiring an enormous investment.

WiFi adoption is one of several technological advances that are driving progress in American transportation. Let’s take a look at how technology, including mass transit WiFi, can help address some of our nation’s more complex transportation challenges.

Automatic Train Supervision: Preventing Crashes, Tracking Trains in Real Time.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) recently upgraded its train control system, typically considered to be the largest in the world, with 220 trains running simultaneously at rush hour. The MTA supports NYC subways using Automatic Train Supervision (ATS) technology. ATS includes automated traffic control, wayside signaling, automatic vehicle identification, and integrated voice/data communication. The new MTA system will allow operators to track trains in real time, for more accurate passenger information and improved coordination.

Overall, ATS is one aspect of ATC, Automatic Train Control. ATC can also include ATP, Automatic Train Protection, which can prevent crashes by limiting speed. Oftentimes, ATP systems automatically apply train breaks if the train exceeds the maximum allowed speed for more than two seconds. ATC systems may communicate through WiFi signals, fixed antenna, coded track circuits, or induction loops.

Maximizing Capacity through Technological Innovations

Light prioritization, also known as traffic signal preemption, changes traffic signals to allow certain vehicles through. GPS signals may communicate with traffic lights, or a vehicle operator may push a certain button to keep the oncoming light green. Light prioritization can speed commute times by limiting the amount of time riders must wait at traffic signals. San Antonio’s Primo rapid transit service currently uses GPS-based light prioritization to keep its high-speed commuter buses flowing through traffic. Similarly, Tyler, Texas recently installed signal coordination software that adjusts light patterns for current traffic conditions. As a result, travel delays in the city have been reduced by 49%.

Train and bus Wifi systems can also maximize capacity by improving system-wide coordination in other ways. As we highlighted in a post last month, the new PATH Control Train Center in New York City will boost system capacity by 20%, partially through longer trains and platforms, but also through system-wide communication. In the new PATH center, workers can monitor the entire 43 miles of track in the system via energy fluctuation tracking. This allows staff to schedule trains to run with less headway. Previously, passengers were used to a ten-minute gap between trains. Technology in the new control center will allow trains to run with just four minutes of headway.

By sidestepping the need to rebuild entire transit infrastructures, train and bus WiFi systems can evolve operations and improve the transportation experience. The Business Roundtable, a group of leading U.S. CEOs, calls this new approach “hybrid infrastructure,” with technology as the hybrid element, maximizing infrastructure. Transit bus WiFi and other technological innovations can improve current transportation systems without requiring exorbitant overhauls.

[Photo by Tripp via CC License]

Mass Transit Mobility: Future Concepts Include Robotic Podcar Vehicles & More

InnoTrans 2012This September, Berlin hosted the International Trade Fair for Transportation Technology, InnoTrans. From September 23 through 26th, the massive Messe Berlin convention center hosted the show over a sprawling 94,000 square meters of exhibition space. In InnoTrans 2014’s Future Mobility Park, hundreds of transport innovations made their world premiers. The Future Mobility Park showcased the transportation of tomorrow. For projects that hope to set the trend for worldwide, regional, and local transportation, the Future Mobility Park represented a central platform, where their ideas could take root. Let’s take a look at three of the most interesting concepts presented at InnoTrans 2014.

InnoTrans 2014: What’s On Show at the Future Mobility Park

Lightweight, Light-Filled High Speed Trains. Today, Germany’s ICE (Intercity-Express) trains connect cities at speeds of more than 180 miles per hour. Now Mac Stoppa, chief designer/architect at Massive Design, has created a new ICE train concept using composite materials currently being developed for the aviation industry. The concept trains feature a double row of large circular windows down their sides, allowing natural light and passing sights to fill the cabins.

Integrated, Never-ending Ground-to-Sky Transport. Four project design engineers from the Glasgow School of Art are behind the ambitious “Horizon” concept. By 2050, Horizon promises to end airport traffic jams via a seamless ground-to-air experience. Passengers would travel to their local SkyStation and board a SkyLink pod, which would speed above cities on elevated platforms, linking up with other pods along the way. A SkyShip would then descend, connecting to the tracks via an “intelligent magnetic system.” While hovering, the automated SkyShip would drop off and pick up pods, all while maintaining speed.

Computer-Manned, Solar-Powered Transit. Jpods presented a concept for a computer-controlled mobility network. Their plans envision robot-manned pods running on elevated rails. Extremely lightweight materials and other innovations would allow the pods to operate on 10% of what is required for today’s buses and trains. What’s more, solar panels mounted above the rails would gather all energy needed to power the system.

Mass Transit WiFi’s Role in the Transportation Technology of the Future

Within our lifetimes, cars will be automated. The Internet will connect people, organizations, infrastructure, and things, including cars, trains, and buses. Today, mass transit WiFi is already providing benefits to passengers and operators. As tomorrow’s innovations come online, public transit WiFi will be a basic expectation. Passengers of the future will expect mobile WiFi, much as we expect individual lights and fans on airplanes. To keep high-speed, eco-friendly transportation pods in communication with travel hubs, operators will rely on wireless connectivity.

[Photo by ABB Schweiz via CC License]