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Freedom and convenience to move: A complex orchestra for communications

Delivering 10 million public transport trips per day to passengers across 18 countries and five continents is a complex challenge, requiring detailed planning, precise logistical management and a constant eye on safety.

Transdev, a global public transport operator and integrator, has a clear understanding of how all of these requirements enable them to meet their goal of “giving” people the freedom to move whenever and however they choose.

In Australia, Transdev is the leading public transport service provider of buses, ferries, heavy rail, light rail and industrial services across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and New Zealand.

More than providing mobility services, what sets public transport operators apart is their ability to give passengers peace of mind that they will arrive at their destinations in a convenient, timely and safe manner.

The critical component that enables all of this to happen, is communication.

With a secure, reliable and robust communications infrastructure, transportation companies can conduct their complex orchestra of daily movements in a safe and efficient way.

For Transdev, a key enabler of its technology transformation has come through accessing the communications infrastructure of the Orion Network (Orion).

This has enabled Transdev to combine and integrate disparate systems, streamline information services, which in turn enabled support for its new applications. As a result, Transdev now has more efficient operational processes that positively impact its business KPIs and customer experience.

The transport company earned major recognition from the customer service industry in 2016, as a consequence of this.

But Transdev has more innovation in the pipeline, to help it to keep up with growing customer expectation for further comfort and convenience.

Flexible choice

Orion’s Operations Control Centres (OCC) network architecture allows it to operate as a distributed model across multiple Australian states. This way, Transdev can manage its national fleet of buses efficiently and with visibility across the states.

As Australian cities add more bus interchanges to keep up with an increase in per capita public transport usage, multi-site networks have proven ideal for managing Transdev’s communications needs.

The infrastructure comprises a number of applications and features including text messaging, voice recording and data reporting – all of which are crucial to monitoring performance levels for a transportation network.

The Orion network’s digital trunking technology with automatic site roaming, also ensures that critical communication links between drivers and operators, depot supervisors, mechanics and the OCC, are always maintained.

Although the communications network operates as a multi-city site architecture, a single radio platform – Motorola Solutions’ MOTOTRBO Connect Plus digital mobile radio technology (DMR) – powers all of Transdev’s operational communications.

Together, the network and this radio platform enable voice and data communications to be integrated. There is better quality and more robust communications between drivers and the OCC along with a wider range of call types, now.

This combination is complemented by an LTE-Advanced Pro vehicle router, the Orion Transit hub, which provides additional sources of data. It enables concurrent connections to multiple business critical applications including live video streams, both in and around the bus.

On top of this, Motorola Solutions’ WAVE Work Group Communications enables interoperable communications between different devices on different networks. For example, bus drivers can now communicate seamlessly between two-way radio users and supervisors using smart phones,

Telematic data from buses can also be collected to help Transdev plan for a timely and proactive maintenance regime for its fleet of vehicles.

Visual information and automated processes

By presenting information in visual ways, Transdev’s OCC staff have been able to consume information quickly. This has enabled key operational details like passenger count and route management to be shared rapidly between the OCC and bus drivers in the field, resulting in automated processes and improved customer service levels.

There is more proactive driver management, and drawing better intelligence from data has led to improved bus route handling, simplified process management as well as more timely and safe management of incidents.

But Transdev still believes more can be done.

More data for safety

The benefits gained from the initial transformation were tremendous. And now the company has set its sights upon a New South Wales government contract to provide public transport for one of its cities.

Mark McKenzie

Transdev’s Head of Strategic Initiatives for NSW Bus, Mark McKenzie, provided a glimpse into how the company intends to meet the KPIs required of its contracts.

For example, one of those requirements is being able to rapidly increase the time needed to notify clients about road accidents (faster even than social media).

One way of achieving this could be through greater sharing of video data between bus drivers and the OCC, helping to create a real time picture of what’s going on inside the vehicle.

This is now possible with Motorola Solution’s technologies and Orion’s network. For example, there is a customised duress function for drivers to flag emergencies and link back to OCC operators who can instantly identify important details like the bus involved in an accident, and its location.

Various other control security features on the vehicle are also supported now.

All Transdev’s voice and data interactions on the Orion network are recorded, which is essential for post-event analysis, as well as to demonstrate compliance with occupational health and safety (OH&S) and regulatory requirements.

The data collected can also be used for operational staff training, as well as improving internal business processes.

Roads are essential to getting around in Australia, and while it also has the second highest level of car ownership in the world, public transportation remains an important way for Australians to move around.

With growing demand for public transport and plenty of roads to travel on, Transdev’s focus on innovation for communications system is a vital approach, for Australians to continue to move freely and safely.