Mitigating COVID-19 safety concerns using a cloud-based system

by Andreas Rakebrandt, Sr. VP of APC

Handling sanitation of vehicles during a pandemic

Many agencies are experiencing huge reductions in ridership during the COVID-19 pandemic. Others are seeing bus services slashed causing overcrowding on subways and trains at a time when social distancing is most critical. Making sure “essential workers” stay safe while taking public transit is especially important during the pandemic as these folks don’t have the option to work from home.

Never before have agencies needed accurate and real time ridership data more in order to dynamically plan their everyday services. A first step, however, is making sure standard procedures are in place. INIT uses a powerful tool called Object Maintenance Information System (OMIS) with dual purpose:

  • The tool is used to monitor and maintain the Automatic Passenger Counting equipment to ensure it is working correctly.
  • The tool is also used to track and maintain the cleaning efforts of the vehicles to reduce / prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

With such a system, agencies get daily critical notifications about cleaning procedures and are alerted to any defects on certain equipment on a train or bus. This information is also directly shared with stakeholders so safety liabilities are reduced, and faulty equipment can be repaired quickly.

FTA Accurate ridership reporting is naturally important for FTA funding, but it is especially essential in being able to document and receive support due to the negative effects on ridership during the current corona virus crisis.

Making Informed Decisions

Setting high benchmarks allows agency stakeholders to make informed decisions about which services to tailor in a well-timed manner. OMIS is providing the valuable information that helps agencies quickly adapt in changing situations.

For instance, agencies can use valuable data with:

  • Transparency in the form of web-based test reports which can be accessed by all agency stakeholders and viewed historically during the maintenance or commissioning process.
  • Data for vehicle cleanings with assurance that all components were covered.
  • Information on GTFS stop identifications.
  • Data on defective components. For instance, vehicles which are reporting out of specification as it pertains to APC quality and vehicles which do not report APC data at all are flagged for both the data analytics team and maintenance personnel to see.
  • Work order notifications for issue resolution.

While the FTA does not certify specific products, the implementation of OMIS is clearly beneficial as it can be used in the maintenance plan required for NTD reporting.

Ridership data and funding are tied hand in hand. Unless you can accurately identify the negative affects the coronavirus pandemic has had on your system, relief funding, and funding in general will be harder to justify.

Technical solutions for critical situations

Having the technical solution available to receive information regarding the working status for individual APC units is a great advantage. It allows for improvement of the quality of annual total unlinked passenger trips (UPT) and passenger miles traveled (PMT) from available APC data.

The integrated OMIS solution provided by INIT can not only better prepare transit agencies in the event of unplanned disasters such as COVID-19 but can continually promote quality performance throughout the life cycle of vehicles.


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