Infoscience

Journal article

Data management and applications in a world-leading bus fleet

Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) Systems are being introduced increasingly in many major cities around the world to improve the efficiency of our road-based passenger transport systems. Satellite-based location and communication systems, particularly the Global Positioning System (GPS) have been the platform for AVL systems which are now supporting real-time passenger information (RTPI), fleet management and operations (FMOs) and public transport priorities (PTPs), to name three key applications. The process of real-time on-board bus location can result in a substantial database where the progress of the bus is stored typically on a second-by-second basis. This is necessary for the primary real-time applications such as those listed above (e.g. RTPI, FMO and PTP). In addition, it is clear that such data could have an array of ‘secondary’ purposes, including use off-line for improving scheduling efficiency and for automatic performance monitoring, thus reducing or removing the need for manual on-street surveys. This paper looks at these and other innovative uses of AVL data for public transport, taking the recent iBus system in London as a current example of a modern AVL/GPS application in a capital city. It describes the data architecture and management in iBus and then illustrates two further examples of secondary data use – dwell time estimation and bus performance analysis. The paper concludes with a discussion of some key data management issues, including data quantity and quality, before drawing conclusions

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