ITS Architecture Implementation Program
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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

4.4.3.3 Transit-Related Functional Flow Diagrams

Transit integration issues encompass a wide range of topics. The Functional Flow Diagrams presented in this section all revolve around how transit agencies in central Ohio can better manage their fleets and increase the efficiency of their operations through the use of ITS. Please refer to the narratives associated with each flow diagram for specific explanations of each element.

Transit Passenger and Fare Management flow diagram showing six elements: Transit Management, Transit Vehicle, Payment Instrument, Remote Traveler Support, Financial Institution, and Merchants

Advanced fare media, and smart cards in particular, make fare payment more convenient for the transit user and financial management of fare revenues more secure and efficient for the transit agency. This functional flow diagram provides a basic representation of one way by which a transit provider will manage fare payments with the help of ITS systems. COTA plans this type of system as the final stage of its ITS deployment program.

Element 1 NarrativeTransit Management will manage COTA bus fleets and coordinate with other modes of transportation. It will collect and store ridership levels and implement corresponding fare structures. It will provide travelers with real-time travel information, continuously updated schedules, schedule adherence information, transfer options, transit routes and fares. It will have the capability to accept collected data required to determine accurate ridership levels and implement variable and flexible fare structures.

Element 2 NarrativeThe Transit Vehicle will collect accurate ridership levels and support electronic fare collection. It will provide the capability to collect data required to determine accurate ridership levels and implement variable and flexible fare structures. Current fare collection information, including the operational status of the fare collection equipment and financial payment transaction data, will be shared with the Transit Management center. Data collected on board the transit vehicle pertaining to availability and/or passenger count will be shared as well. Transit Management will send lists of invalid transit passenger tags that may have previously failed a fare payment transaction.

Element 3 NarrativeThe Payment Instrument represents the entity that enables the actual transfer of funds from the passengers to COTA. It is proposed that this payment instrument will be a Smart Card.

Payment Instrument facilitates requests to deduct cost of service from passenger's payment account (payment of some kind such as a toll, parking fee, or transit fare). Fare card maintenance, and other features that enhance traveler convenience may also be provided at the discretion of COTA.

Element 4 NarrativeRemote Traveler Support will provide the capability to the traveler to use a common fare medium for all applicable surface transportation services, to pay without stopping, have payment media automatically identified as void and/or invalid, and to have one's eligibility verified. This could be implemented as a payment instrument reader at a kiosk. In addition, capability to provide expansion into other uses for payment medium such as retail and telephone and for off-line billing for fares paid by agencies will be supported.

Element 5 NarrativeThe Financial Institution represents the organization that handles all electronic fund transfer requests to enable the transfer of funds from the passengers to COTA.

Element 6 NarrativeMerchants represent any third party entity outside the traditional ITS boundary that could participate in using the Payment Instrument, or Smart Card, to conduct commerce. Its functions would behave similarly to a credit card and have no direct connection with the Transit Management center. The only indirect connection would be that the card used to ride the bus could also be used to make purchases at retail stores or anywhere that would take a credit card.

Transit Route Operations flow diagram showing five elements: Transit Management, Information Service Provider, Traffic Management, Transit Vehicle, and Roadway

This functional flow diagram provides a basic representation of one way by which Transit Management will manage route operations with the help of ITS systems. It illustrates how functions such as automatic driver assignment and monitoring, as well as vehicle routing and scheduling for fixed-route services, could be made using ITS systems. It should be noted that all the flows discussed here would occur similarly whether or not a regional transportation management center, uniting transportation roles such as transit, safety, and traffic under one roof, is built (see Regional Transportation Management functional flow diagram). The following flows are functional flows and could occur in a centralized or distributed scenario.

Element 1 NarrativeIn terms of ITS-related functions the Transit Management center plans to manage the coach fleet by implementing a range of ITS-related systems, the key element being instrumenting its coaches with AVL. COTA's planned use of AVL is detailed in 4. OSU currently is using an AVL system to manage its fleet.

Element 2 NarrativeTransit Management center will provide in the future: fare structures, coach schedules and other transit system status information to an Information Service Provider. This share of data is in addition to providing traveler information through its facilities (i.e., COTA kiosks, etc.). The information discussed here is exchanged using wireline links to the Information Service Provider where it is integrated with data from other transportation modes such as train and air (e.g., 2-C rail, Port Columbus) to provide the public with integrated and personalized dynamic schedules. This relationship is further explained in the Broadcast Traveler Information, Interactive Traveler Information and Transit Traveler Information Functional Flow Diagrams. As noted in other flow diagrams the future nature of the Information Service Provider is still unknown. Some elements will be conducted by the transit authorities themselves (as COTA currently does with its Trip Planner webpage), while others could be performed by third parties.

Element 3 NarrativeCoordination between Transit Management and Traffic Management (the Columbus Metropolitan Freeway Management System and other suburban TMCs) is a critical step toward achieving the maximum benefit of ITS systems. COTA's coaches with AVL instruments will act as probes on the city street system, providing an additional level of traffic surveillance to the region's freeway management system. Likewise, providing COTA communications personnel with highway surveillance information provided by the Columbus Metropolitan Freeway Management System enhances their ability to manage the system efficiently.

The Traffic Management center also provides the capability of signal control to allow signal priority for COTA buses. Current transit system operations information indicating current transit routes, the level of service on each route, and the progress of individual vehicles along their routes will be obtained from the Transit Management center. The Traffic Management center will receive requests for signal priority at one or more intersections along a particular route. It could also send back the status of signal priority request functions at the roadside (e.g., enabled or disabled).

Element 4 NarrativeCOTA's Transit Vehicles will be equipped with AVL devices to enhance the efficiencies of operations. AVL systems use on-board computers and positioning systems like GPS to monitor vehicle locations. Because of its ability to provide exact vehicle locations in real-time, the AVL system is considered the backbone for the implementation of most other transit ITS systems. One important aspect of obtaining exact vehicle locations in real-time is the ability to use this information to monitor the vehicle's schedule adherence in real-time. The drivers are constantly aware if they are running late, early, or on time; thus, they can instantly adjust their speeds to maintain schedule adherence.

By maintaining schedule adherence, coaches are then able to reach their stops on time and allow timely transfers. This will translate into a convenient, efficient and reliable transit system. Transit coaches equipped with AVL could also serve as traffic probes, as their location and speed information is instantaneously shared with traffic engineers, as described in 3. The benefits of an AVL system could be summarized as follows:

  • Increased overall dispatching and operating efficiency
  • More reliable services
  • Quick response to service disruptions

The Transit Vehicle will also provide the capability for COTA buses to request signal priority directly with traffic control equipment at the roadside.

Element 5 NarrativeThe Roadway will be provided the capability to receive vehicle signal priority requests and control roadside signals accordingly.

Transit Maintenance flow diagram showing three elements: Transit Management, Transit Vehicle, and Transit Maintenance Personnel

The Transit Maintenance functional flow diagram shows how future automatic maintenance scheduling and monitoring could be performed. On-board condition sensors will monitor critical system status (e.g., mileage, engine temperature, fluid levels) and transmit critical status information to the Transit Management center. Hardware and software in the Transit Management center will process these data and schedule appropriate maintenance activities with their maintenance sections. Currently, neither COTA nor OSU has added this capability; however, the city of Columbus Division of Police is testing a demonstration of this type of system on a sample of its cruiser fleet.

Element 1 NarrativeTransit Management will provide advanced maintenance functions for transit property to include coaches, trucks and cars. It will collect operational and maintenance data from COTA and OSU buses, manage vehicle service histories and monitor drivers and buses. It will collect vehicle mileage data and use it to automatically generate preventative maintenance schedules for each vehicle by utilizing vehicle-tracking data from a prerequisite vehicle tracking equipment package. In addition, it will provide information to proper service personnel to support maintenance activities. It will record and verify that maintenance work was performed.

Element 2 NarrativeOperating conditions of transit vehicles (e.g., mileage, engine, temp, fluid levels) will be sent to the Transit Management center. The Transit Vehicle will provide the capability to use mileage data to automatically generate preventative maintenance schedules for each specific coach, truck or car by utilizing vehicle tracking data and storing it using a trip computer. It will also provide the capability for real-time condition monitoring on board the vehicle, and transmission of this information via two-way communication to the Transit Management center.

Element 3 NarrativeTransit Maintenance Personnel represent the staff that will be responsible for monitoring, controlling and planning the schedules for the maintenance of transit fleets. Transit Management will send confirmation of a request for transit information or service to the Transit Maintenance Personnel.

Transit Security flow diagram showing five elements: Transit Management, Transit Vehicle, Remote Traveler Support, Safety Management, and Information Service Provider

This functional flow diagram represents how the security system components are related. This system will perform surveillance and warn of potentially hazardous situations. Information will be communicated to the Transit Management center using the existing or emerging wireless (vehicle to center) or wireline (area to center) infrastructure.

Element 1 NarrativeThe Transit Management center will monitor key transit locations, for COTA as well as for OSU, with both video and audio systems automatically alerting operators and police of potential incidents and supporting traveler-activated alarms.

Element 2 NarrativeThe Transit Vehicle will be monitored for safety using on-board safety sensors, processors and communications. The Transit Management center will be notified about emergency situations originated by a traveler using an in-vehicle, public access or personal device. Sufficient information is provided so that the recipient can determine the location of the emergency at a minimum. The Transit Management center will acknowledge requests for emergency assistance and provide additional details regarding actions and verification requirements.

Currently, COTA buses have video surveillance cameras inside them for passenger safety and cameras facing the outside front of the bus for vandalism purposes.

COTA has also recently upgraded its radio system to allow for monitoring during emergency situations. The bus driver is able to notify the radio communications center of an incident on the bus without notifying the assailant that help is on the way.

Element 3 NarrativeRemote Traveler Support in this diagram represents the capability to monitor the safety of transit passengers at remote locations (shelters, transit centers, etc). It will collect surveillance images and data and relay this information back to the Transit Management center. A remote mayday system, such as an emergency call box, will provide the capability to report an emergency and summon assistance. It will include a traveler interface that facilitates generation of a distress signal and carries it and allows follow-up verification and determination of the nature of the emergency and the required response.

Originated by a traveler using an in-vehicle, public access device, Remote Traveler Support will notify the Transit Management center regarding emergency and request for assistance. Transit Management then acknowledges this request for emergency assistance and provides additional details regarding actions and verification requirements. Transit Management will control surveillance equipment and security sensors that monitor public transportation areas. The data collected from surveillance systems used to monitor secure areas include video, audio, and other security sensor outputs.

Element 4 NarrativeSafety Management will create, store and utilize emergency response plans to facilitate coordinated response. Safety Management will be notified by the Transit Management center about transit emergencies at a transit stop, transit shelters, transit centers or on transit vehicles. Data will be exchanged between the two centers to deal with a transit-related incident. Further coordination takes place, as additional details become available.

Element 5 NarrativeThe Information Service Provider will collect, process, store and disseminate transportation information to system operators and to the traveling public. It can play several different roles in an integrated ITS system. The Transit Management center will send information to the Information Service Provider on transit incidents that impact transit services for public dissemination.

Transit Vehicle Tracking flow diagram showing four elements: Transit Management, Transit Vehicle, Traffic Management, and Information Service Provider

This functional flow diagram provides a basic representation on how transit operations can be improved with the use of AVL using on-board computers and positioning systems such as GPS to monitor vehicle locations. Because of its ability to provide exact vehicle locations in real-time, the AVL system is considered the backbone for the implementation of most other transit ITS systems. One important aspect of obtaining exact vehicle locations in real-time is the ability to use this information to monitor the vehicle schedule adherence in real-time. This will translate into a convenient, efficient and reliable bus service.

Enhanced operating efficiency and service should translate into increased ridership and therefore less congestion. For example, in Baltimore, Maryland buses equipped with automatic vehicle identification have a 23 percent better record of on-time performance. In central Ohio, of the two transit systems deploying ITS, COTA and OSU, only OSU has a system that is currently operating. The OSU BLIS System was a demonstration project that is currently being upgraded to fulfill a more long-term mission. COTA plans to implement an AVL system as part of its six-year ITS plan.

Element 1 NarrativeTransit Management facilities will provide the capabilities for monitoring Transit Vehicle locations and determining vehicle schedule adherence. In central Ohio the two transit systems deploying ITS include COTA and OSU. These ITS systems will allow the Transit Management center to use this tracking information to furnish passengers with real-time travel-related information. This information is continuously updated with real-time information from each transit system and provides passengers with the latest available information on transit routes in addition to schedules, transfer options, fares, real-time schedule adherence, current incident conditions, weather conditions and special events. The systems will also support the capability for two-way voice and data communication with the Transit Vehicle driver.

Element 2 NarrativeThe Transit Vehicle will provide the capabilities to support fleet management with automatic vehicle location and automated mileage and fuel reporting and auditing. AVL systems can also record other special events resulting from communication with roadside equipment. This includes only the equipment on board the vehicle to support this function including the vehicle location devices such as GPS equipment, communication interfaces, a processor to record trip length, and the sensors, actuators, and interfaces necessary to record mileage and fuel usage. COTA plans to use a GPS-based system to accomplish these processes.

The Transit Vehicle will provide current transit vehicle location and related operational conditions data (e.g., speed, vehicle number, driver number, route ID). The Transit Management center will send back the current and projected transit schedule adherence for the driver's information.

Element 3 NarrativeCoordination between Transit Management and Traffic Management (the Columbus Metropolitan Freeway Management System and other suburban TMCs) is a critical step toward achieving the maximum benefit of ITS systems.

COTA's and OSU's coaches with AVL instruments will act as probes on the city street system, providing an additional level of traffic surveillance to the region's freeway management system. Likewise, providing COTA and OSU communications personnel with highway surveillance information provided by the freeway management system enhances their ability to manage the system efficiently.

Element 4 NarrativeAs discussed in 1, Transit Management will update the transit schedule and make real-time schedule and fare schedule information available to the Information Service Provider (which collects, processes, stores and disseminates transportation information to system operators and the traveling public). This share of data is in addition to providing traveler information through their facilities (i.e., COTA and OSU traveler information displays at shelters, WebPages, kiosks, etc.).

The information discussed here is exchanged using wireline links to the Information Service Provider where it is integrated with data from other transportation modes such as train and air (e.g., 2-C rail, Port Columbus) to provide the public with integrated and personalized dynamic schedules. This relationship is further explained in the Broadcast Traveler Information, Interactive Traveler Information and Transit Traveler Information Functional Flow Diagrams.

Multi-Modal Coordination flow diagram showing six elements: Transit Management, Transit Vehicle, Traffic Management, Roadway, Parking Management, and Intermodal Transportation Service Provider

This functional flow diagram illustrates how two-way communications between various agencies can improve service coordination across modes. Intermodal coordination between transit agencies can increase traveler convenience at transfer points and also improve operating efficiency. Coordination between traffic and transit management is intended to improve on-time performance of the transit system to the extent that this can be accommodated without degrading overall performance of the traffic network. Currently, neither transit agency in central Ohio coordinates at the level described here, but it is desired that they pursue such integration.

Element 1 NarrativeThe Transit Management facility will determine the need for transit priority on routes and at certain intersections and request transit vehicle priority at these locations. It will also support schedule coordination between transit properties and coordinate with other surface and air transportation modes.

Element 2 NarrativeThe Transit Vehicle will provide the capability for COTA buses to request signal priority through short-range communication directly with traffic control equipment at the roadside.

Element 3 NarrativeThe Traffic Management center provides the capability of signal control to allow signal priority for COTA buses. Current transit system operations information indicating current transit routes, the level of service on each route, and the progress of individual vehicles along their routes will be obtained from the Transit Management center. The Traffic Management center will receive requests for signal priority at one or more intersections along a particular route. It could also send back the status of signal priority request functions at the roadside (e.g., enabled or disabled).

Element 4 NarrativeThe Roadway will be provided the capability to receive vehicle signal priority requests and control roadside signals accordingly.

Element 5 NarrativeParking Management will provide the capability to provide parking availability and parking fee information, and allow for parking payment without the use of cash with a multiple- use medium at COTA and OSU facilities. It will also support the detection, classification, and control of vehicles seeking parking. The Transit Management center will respond to transit occupancy inquiries and coordinate with Parking Management.

Element 6 Narrative Schedule information for alternate mode transportation providers such as train (2-C rail), air (Port Columbus), and bus, will be exchanged between the Transit Management center and Intermodal Transportation Service Providers. This two-way interface will enable coordination for efficient movement of people and goods across multiple transportation modes. It also enables the traveler to efficiently plan itineraries that include segments using various modes of travel.

Transit Traveler Information flow diagram showing seven elements: Transit Management, Personal Info Access, Parking Management, Information Service Provider, Traffic Management, Safety Management, and Remote Traveler Support

This functional flow diagram provides transit users at transit stops and aboard transit vehicles with ready access to transit information. The information services include transit stop annunciation, arrival signs and real-time transit schedule displays that are of general interest to transit users. Systems that provide custom transit trip itineraries and other tailored transit information services are also represented in this diagram. Currently, COTA plans to implement a variety of traveler information devices. OSU currently offers real-time location of its buses on its WebPage and "time till next bus" info at some shelters on its campus.

The goal for future transit information, regardless if it's COTA or OSU information, is to make it available to users at one location and to ensure that it is "seamless" to the eyes of the traveler.

Element 1 NarrativeTransit Management manages transit vehicle fleets and coordinates with other modes and transportation services. Transit Management receives special event and real-time incident data from Traffic Management and Safety Management and provides current transit operations data back to these centers. Transit Management collects and stores accurate ridership levels and implements corresponding fare structures. A potential use for this type of system would be COTA through its webpage.

Element 2 NarrativeTransit Management also provides the capability for automated planning and scheduling of public transit operations. It furnishes travelers with real-time travel information, continuously updated schedules, schedule adherence information, transfer options, and transit routes and fares through an Information Service Provider (see 4) and Personal Information Access.

Element 3 NarrativeParking Management provides the capability to provide parking availability and parking fee information, to allow for parking payment without the use of cash with a multiple-use medium, and to support the detection, classification, and control of vehicles seeking parking.

Parking Management has a connection to Transit Management for the purpose of traveler information. Park and Ride facilities will have VMS on major arterials and freeways prior to entrance onto them. VMS will show parking availability and approximate travel time to downtown to encourage use of these services. COTA plans to implement this at various transit centers and park and rides in its system.

Element 4 NarrativeThe Information Service Provider collects, processes, stores, and disseminates transportation information to system operators and the traveling public. The role of the Information Service Provider is focused on delivery of traveler information to subscribers and the public at large. Information provided includes basic advisories, real-time traffic condition and transit schedule information, yellow pages information, ridematching information, and parking information. The Information Service Provider also provides the capability to provide specific directions to travelers by receiving origin and destination requests from travelers, generating route plans and returning the calculated plans to the users. Although OSU has no current plans to implement this level of service, COTA does plan to provide this service.

In addition to general route planning for travelers, the Information Service Provider also supports specialized route planning for vehicle fleets. In this role, the Information Service Provider function may be dedicated to, or even embedded within, the dispatch system. Reservation services are also provided in advanced implementations. The information is provided to the traveler through Personal Information Access, Remote Traveler Support and various other systems through available communications links.

It is uncertain how the Information Service Provider's role will be divided in terms of providing transit traveler information. Some degree will be provided, as is done currently, by the transit systems themselves; other elements could be provided by entities such as Paving the Way or a third party altogether.

Element 5 NarrativeTraffic Management communicates with the roadway to monitor and manage traffic flow. Incidents are detected and verified and incident information is provided to Safety Management, travelers (through HAR and VMS), and to third party Information Service Providers. Traffic Management communicates with other traffic management centers to coordinate traffic information and control strategies in neighboring jurisdictions.

Element 6 NarrativeSafety Management operates in various emergency centers supporting public safety including police and fire stations, search and rescue special detachments, and HAZMAT response teams. Real-time traffic information received from Transit Management is used to aid the emergency dispatcher in selecting the emergency vehicle(s) and routes that will provide the most timely response. Interface with the Transit Management center also allows coordinated use of transit vehicles to facilitate response to major emergencies. COTA currently has this arrangement with various Safety Management Centers such as the Franklin County EMA.

Element 7 NarrativeRemote Traveler Support provides access to traveler information at transit stations, transit stops, other fixed sites along travel routes, and at major trip generation locations such as special event centers (Greater Columbus Convention Center, Port Columbus, etc.), hotels, office complexes, amusement parks and theatres. At transit stops, simple displays providing schedule information and imminent arrival signals can be provided. This basic information may be extended to include multimodal information including traffic conditions and transit schedules along with yellow pages information to support mode and route selection at major trip generation sites. Personalized route planning and route guidance information can also be provided based on criteria supplied by the traveler. As mentioned in other flow diagrams, the Columbus Metropolitan Freeway Management Center has a desire to integrate the Remote Traveler Support whenever possible.

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