Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Targets Rider Experience and Service Management with Transit Capacity Management Pilot Project

City Tech Collaborative
"Public transit is the circulatory system of our cities; it’s necessary to get us where we need to be and keep our businesses, economy, and our lives in motion. Bringing together this team’s capabilities to create a scalable solution is just one piece of increasing our cities’ resilience beyond COVID."

Brenna Berman, CEO

Facing an unprecedented pandemic, public transit agencies nationwide must efficiently manage vehicle capacities while dealing with unpredictable variability in ridership and fluctuations in COVID-19 restrictions. Digi Remote Manager®, Digi’s cloud-based management platform, provides network-wide visibility and management to gain critical insights.

Chicago public transportationThe Chicago Transit Authority is the nation’s second-largest public transit system, operating 1,864 buses over 129 routes, along with a rail system that services two major airports. The CTA is leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) technology through an innovative passenger-counting pilot project to understand vehicle occupancy in real time, increase rider comfort, and improve the passenger experience.
 

CTA’s Capacity Puzzle

As is the case for many transit agencies, much of the CTA’s data on transit vehicle capacity is either incomplete, not available in real time, or based on historic averages that may or may not reflect current realities — especially in the face of changing public-health guidelines. Without accurate real time occupancy data and demand forecasts, the CTA struggles to know when and where to adjust service to ensure the most efficient and reliable service, appropriate social distancing, and shorter wait times.

Busy Chicago bus
To leverage its existing data and collect new data through advanced technology, the CTA turned to City Tech Collaborative, a Chicago-based urban solutions accelerator. City Tech spearheaded a pilot project to provide real-time occupancy counts and capacity information to inform the agency’s decision making. The pilot system measures the efficacy of various passenger-counting technologies and serves as a test site for:
  • Capturing demand and utilization data from existing bus video assets
  • Data management tools to support CTA operations
  • Analytics and predictive modeling for proactive demand management
 The pilot was deployed along the CTA’s 79th Street bus route, one of the agency’s busiest. Using demand data to create real-time and projected views of vehicle utilization, the agency can respond faster to evolving guidelines from health officials — or other situations that might affect passenger volume, such as weather, time of day, and concerts or sporting events that drive passenger volume.
 

Using the IoT for Capacity Management

The connectivity foundation of key video and ranging (LiDAR) data sources is an integrated software/hardware solution from Digi. The data is transmitted via Digi cellular routers. Then, cloud and edge computing analytics process it quickly for display on a single CTA dashboard, alongside passenger count data from existing sources such as automated passenger counting and ticketing/tap data, plus data from emerging technologies such as 3D imaging sensors, light detection, and the counting of passengers’ mobile devices seeking Wi-Fi network connections.

The CTA can use rider counts to make operational decisions, including taking actions such as adding gap buses, holding buses, or directing buses to run drop off only, and other service management tactics.
 

Digi’s Software and Hardware Solution for Transit Connectivity

Digi TX54 and Digi Remote Manager
At the heart of the networking solution is Digi Remote Manager® (Digi RM), Digi’s cloud-based networking platform. Digi RM provides complete visibility across all devices through visual dashboards of metrics. It also provides automated reports on router activity and other relevant activities that integrate device and performance data. Reports can range from daily summaries to detailed, time-based charts of individual metrics such as link uptime, network response, and data throughput.
 
Every bus in the pilot is outfitted with a Digi WR54 mobile access router (MAR) that communicates with onboard occupancy sensors and systems, as well as with the Genetec unified security platform. The Genetec platform, which is hosted in Microsoft Azure, integrates and analyzes the data to create projection models for proactive transit demand management. In addition, Intel technology supports the integration of video/sensor feeds into the operational tool dashboard, showing real-time vehicle utilization.
 
Like its successor, the 5G-ready Digi TX54, the Digi WR54 router used in the pilot specifically meets the connectivity challenges inherent in public transit and rail applications. With the router’s edge-computing capabilities, it can process and analyze GPS locations and sensor data, such as passenger Wi-Fi device detections. Off-board WAN communications take place over a cellular network when buses are on the streets. Wi-Fi connections are used when vehicles return to the CTA garage.
 

Driving Smarter Decisions

Through this pilot project, the CTA worked to be able to create a projected demand model and provide real-time insights on occupancy across multiple vehicles. This pilot project provided CTA with valuable insight on real-time and predictive tools, and in the future, can help the agency respond faster to variable ridership, resulting in a better experience for riders. Additionally, these real-time measures of expected transit capacity may be published to public apps to help riders plan their commutes.
 
“Public transit is the circulatory system of our cities; it’s necessary to get us where we need to be and keep our businesses, economy, and our lives in motion,” said Brenna Berman, CEO of City Tech Collaborative. “Bringing together this team’s capabilities to create a scalable solution is just one piece of increasing our cities’ resilience beyond COVID.”
 

Connect with Digi

Seeking next-generation solutions and support? Here are some next steps:
Learn More About Digi Transportation Solutions
From all-in-one systems that reduce cost and complexity to system-wide management and 5G, it's all here

Related Content

How to Improve Public Transport with Better Vehicle Connectivity How to Improve Public Transport with Better Vehicle Connectivity Data insights and connectivity upgrades are mission critical for public transportation agencies today. This session, with... RECORDED WEBINAR Journeo Journeo’s Railway Video Solution Provides Safety and Efficiency on Hundreds of Trains in the U.K. With the Journeo Portal, Network Rail in the U.K. can get real-time information and video on its vehicles, systems, and IoT... READ STORY Fleetwatch Fleetwatch Brings Speed, Efficiency, and Intelligence to Public-Transit Fleet Management With Fleetwatch from S&A Systems, MBTA buses (and paratransit and support vehicles) are carefully monitored with a... READ STORY Press Release Digi International Pilot Project with Chicago Transit Authority and City Tech Wins IoT Deployment of the Year Award COVID-19 era public transit management system has been crowned IoT Deployment of the Year at IoT World’s event in Silicon Valley READ PRESS RELEASE 5G in Public Transit and Commercial Transportation Systems 5G in Public Transit and Commercial Transportation Systems In this blog post we introduce the latest 5G transportation solutions from Digi and describe how 5G, the latest cellular... READ BLOG How to Prepare Your Transit System for the 5G Future How to Prepare Your Transit System for the 5G Future The transportation industry is on the cusp of enormous change, with the full rollout of 5G networks. 5G will be a true game... RECORDED WEBINAR Infrastructure Spending: How Smart Cities Are Rolling Out IoT Projects Infrastructure Spending: How Smart Cities Are Rolling Out IoT Projects Today, as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, government leaders — particularly in the U.S. — are preparing to... READ BLOG Digi 5G: Complete Solutions for Enterprise, Light Industrial and Transportation Digi 5G: Complete Solutions for Enterprise, Light Industrial and Transportation The time is now for 5G deployments in commercial, retail, managed office environments, light industrial and transportation. And... WATCH VIDEO NYC Intelligent Transportation Project Wins ITS-NY Award, Advancing ITS NYC Intelligent Transportation Project Wins ITS-NY Award, Advancing ITS Digi congratulates the New York City Department of Transportation for winning the 2020 ITS-NY Project of the Year Award, in the... READ BLOG Smart Cities are Better Cities: Supporting Mobility and Inclusion Smart Cities are Better Cities: Supporting Mobility and Inclusion To transform their municipalities around better traffic and transit flow – a movement now widely known as mobility – cities... READ BLOG Transit Technology: Better Connectivity, Lower Costs Transit Technology: Better Connectivity, Lower Costs Is your city transit system struggling to manage the technology and on-board systems required to ensure your communications are... RECORDED WEBINAR Public Transit Public Transit Digi offers a full range of network connectivity devices, as well as remote management solutions and services for the unique needs of public transportation systems. I WANT THAT Digi TX64 5G / LTE-Advanced Pro Cellular Router Digi TX64 5G / LTE-Advanced Pro Cellular Router High performance cellular router with dual redundant communications for complex transit and transportation systems VIEW PRODUCT Digi TX54 LTE-Advanced Cellular Router Digi TX54 LTE-Advanced Cellular Router Rugged and secure cellular router for mission critical industrial and transportation applications, including models for public safety networks VIEW PRODUCT TransData TransData Launches Transport Ticketing, GPS and Wi-Fi, Bringing Advanced Services to Riders The TransData s.r.o. company, based in Slovakia, is a system integrator that develops applications and system solutions to... READ STORY Smart Transportation: IoT Solutions for Transportation Management Systems Smart Transportation: IoT Solutions for Transportation Management Systems How transit operators can deploy IoT transportation strategies for smarter, more efficient operations VIEW PDF SMART When you have up to 200 buses on the streets for 23 hours each day, it’s essential to constantly monitor your vehicles to... READ STORY Digi Remote Manager Digi Remote Manager Configure, Deploy and Manage Remote Assets Securely VIEW PRODUCT SEPTA Digi Helps SEPTA Comply With Federal Mandate For "Positive Train Control" (PTC) Serving more than one million riders each day, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is the nation’s... READ STORY