Global Positioning System Integrated with Personalized Real-Time Transit Information from Automatic Vehicle Location


Navigating the transit system can be a major obstacle for attracting new riders, especially for special needs populations and tourists. For those with cognitive disabilities (approximately 14.3 million Americans, or 6% of the population), it is especially daunting to plan and execute a trip without receiving personal assistance from travel trainers provided by the transit agency or other group, especially on their first few trips. A Travel Assistance Device (TAD) software prototype for GPS-enabled mobile phones was developed to aid new transit riders, especially those who are cognitively disabled. Informational prompts are delivered to the rider in a “just-in-time” method that triggers the phone to vibrate and deliver audio and visual messages when the rider should signal the driver he or she is approaching his or her stop and exit the vehicle. This paper reports the results of a study sponsored by Transportation Research Board Transit IDEA project which integrated communication with an Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) system for transit vehicles into the TAD system. Utilizing AVL information allows new features to be provided to transit riders via their cell phone such including personalized notices of the estimated vehicle arrival time while they are waiting for the bus, notifying riders when their specific bus arrives, and providing the rider with identifying information so that they board the correct bus if multiple buses are present. Implementation considerations including the limitations of accessing AVL data for real-time consumer use, data integration between different transit agency data sources, and software application overhead considerations (e.g. wireless data communication) on mobile phone functionality (e.g. battery life) are addressed.


Barbeau, Sean, Georggi, Nevine, and Winters, Philip. (2010). “Global Positioning System Integrated with Personalized Real-Time Transit Information from Automatic Vehicle Location.” Transportation Research Record: Journal of Transportation Research Board, No. 2143. Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington DC.


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