Cubic to expand University of Maryland’s smart bus initiative with real-time technology

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Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS), a business unit of the Cubic Corporation, has announced it was awarded a US$1.1m, five-year contract extension from the University of Maryland (UMD) to upgrade its NextBus fleet management system.

UMD’s current smart bus fleet features approximately 80 buses with extensive NextBus hardware capabilities, including GPS-based trackers, driver control units and automatic vehicle location (AVL), which informs riders of the place and time of their buses’ arrivals. Under the contract extension, Cubic will greatly enhance UMD’s smart bus offering by providing university transit staff with features such as automatic passenger counting, automatic voice annunciation and ‘turn-by-turn’ directions. The new technology will allow UMD’s transit staff to track ridership in real time, through the use of automatic passenger counters, which enables the customer to gather data crucial for optimizing operations and improving services.

CTS’ NextBus automatic voice annunciation system will also use the buses’ public address system and onboard light-emitting diodes (LEDs) signs to announce upcoming stops, transfer points and custom messages from UMD’s transit staff. Finally, the ‘turn-by-turn’ direction feature will act as the transit operators’ personal guide to help navigate UMD’s multiple shuttle routes, and assist in the training process of new and prospective bus operators. The installation of this new system is expected to begin later in February.

NextBus is a cloud-based system that provides real-time passenger information capabilities to over 135 transit agencies and organizations worldwide. The platform serves more than 300 million riders each year and offers a host of arrival information options, including apps for mobile devices, a full-featured website, and signage. It also offers an easy-to-use website that is compatible with a JAWS (Job Access With Speech) screen reader and meets Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. For planning and management, transit agencies and operators have access to a suite of arrival information tools and reports. NextBus uses a proprietary algorithm that takes into account the vehicle’s location and historical travel data to provide up-to-the-minute arrival time information.

“The University of Maryland’s Department of Transportation Services (DOTS) is proud to extend our partnership with NextBus and we are excited about the new features our customers will receive in the near future,” said Armand Scala, senior associate director, DOTS at UMD.

“UMD students, faculty and staff, who regularly rely on the NextBus system for real-time bus arrival information during their daily commutes will benefit from the added convenience and increased efficiency resulting from added features, such as automated onboard stop announcements and passenger counting data.”

Min Wei, senior vice president of operations at CTS, commented, “The University of Maryland has been a valued NextBus customer for a number of years, and we admire the university’s commitment to implementing leading-edge technology in its transportation system. We are looking forward to further assisting UMD in providing its students and faculty with an enjoyable, informed, and intelligent transportation experience.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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