Bus stops' new real-time signs

One of the new signs at a bus stop in Anzac Ave in Hamilton. Photo / Supplied
One of the new signs at a bus stop in Anzac Ave in Hamilton. Photo / Supplied

Hamilton is trialling a new type of real-time graphic display signs so passengers know exactly how far away their bus is.

The new information display units, known as eStops, have been installed at five bus stops - Grey Street, Anzac Parade, Lynden Court, Whatawhata Road and The Base.

The new type of signs, which update bus information in real time, are the first in the country and only a handful of others are in use around the world.

The company behind the new signs is Wellington-based Radiola Smart Transit, part of aerospace technology company Radiola Aerospace.

Radiola Smart Transit's executive director Richard Thompson says real-time information display units and aerospace technology have a lot in common.

"About 10 years ago we saw how the kinds of technology we use in the aerospace industry, such as GPS, precision devices, navigation and tracking, could apply to real time information (RTI) systems.

"When you boil it down, both are about collecting and analysing huge amounts of information and making precise recommendations for the end user based on that data."

The company's first foray into RTI came in 2006 when it partnered with Waikato Regional Council, which contracts and manages Hamilton's bus services, to upgrade the bus network to take advantage of real-time information, allowing passengers to track bus arrivals via a solar powered bus stop sign.

Radiola Smart Transit has been running Waikato Regional Council's real-time passenger system for more than 10 years, also operating and managing the buses' hardware, reporting software and full system maintenance.

The real time information display units are being trialled as part of the wider upgrade to Hamilton's bus network.

Waikato Regional Council's public transport manager Andrew Wilson says the council is excited to be trialling this new technology.

"Our network improvements are all about making bus travel that much easier for our passengers, and we've had really good feedback on the signs so far," he says.

"They've been in place for just over a month and passengers seem to really appreciate having bus arrival times available immediately like this."

Mr Thompson says real time information display units will become a regular feature on bus routes throughout the country, replacing static paper signs and LED displays.

"The information that public transport operators can collect from their passengers, such as journey frequency, duration and other individual preferences, is more enhanced than it was 10 or so years ago.

"The real time information that's inside the display units is connected to open-source information, which also feeds web tools such as Google Maps. Being connected to open-source information means e-paper isn't restricted to the framework of one specific provider, so it can be flexible and keep updated alongside other major software updates," he says.

Radiola partnered with Australian engineering company, Mercury Innovation, to make Hamilton's units.

- Hamilton News

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