For over 25 years. the EMTRAC system has been used throughout North America to help transit and first-response vehicles get to their destination both quickly and safely.
EMTRAC staff members have extensive experience in transit and traffic management. They've worked in the industry for many years, and they've helped implement the system in both large and small municipalities.
The EMTRAC system is the most advanced priority management system available—but it's also the easiest system to install and maintain. The most important endorsement of the EMTRAC system is found in the positive comments from agencies using the system. We encourage you to contact EMTRAC customers to hear these comments for yourself.
1201 W. Randolph St.
McLeansboro, IL 62859
PO Box 2421
Mt. Vernon, IL 62864
8409 Evening Star Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75089
Office: (214) 607-0100
Fax: (214) 607-0105
All of the hardware and software for the EMTRAC system is designed, developed, and assembled at our Illinois facility, STC, Incorporated. The STC engineering and development team works closely with EMTRAC customers and use the latest technology to support our customers as efficiently as possible. How can we help you?
1201 W. Randolph St.
McLeansboro, IL 62859
EMTRAC-equipped fire engine, Coquitlam, BC
April 5, 2017 – STC, Inc., manufacturer of the EMTRAC signal-priority system, has integrated the Galileo satellite navigation system with EMTRAC equipment installed in transit and emergency vehicles. Similar to the GPS navigation system maintained by the United States, Galileo is the new European navigation system and will have 24 operational satellites at full capacity. The Galileo system commenced limited initial service on December 15, 2016—and EMTRAC is the first signal-priority system capable of Galileo satellite navigation.
Signal priority systems are installed in traffic systems throughout North America, and they are referred to as either Transit Signal Priority (TSP) or Emergency Vehicle Preemption (EVP) when describing the specific method used to grant priority to equipped vehicles. With this system, equipped vehicles are able to automatically request green signals through equipped intersections, safely reducing travel time while increasing efficiency.
With this addition, the EMTRAC system simultaneously tracks Galileo system satellites along with the GPS and GLONASS constellations, increasing the overall number of satellites used to determine vehicle positions, resulting in enhanced accuracy. The EMTRAC system also utilizes dead-reckoning navigation through multiple inertial sensors, including three-axis accelerometer and gyroscope sensing to maintain accuracy in difficult urban conditions, such as urban canyons, tunnels, and multi-level highways.
EMTRAC-equipped bus in San Jose, CA (VTA)
According to STC President Brad Cross, integration of the Galileo navigation system immediately increases accuracy, and performance will continue to improve in the coming years.
"As more satellites are added to the Galileo constellation, and it becomes fully operational, we expect the EMTRAC system to be more reliable than ever in areas where sky view is obstructed," Cross said.
STC recently conducted a controlled test of the EMTRAC system—using Galileo navigation exclusively. During the test, an EMTRAC-equipped vehicle successfully interpreted detection zones and transmitted priority requests to a simulated intersection utilizing only Galileo satellites.
"We believe this to be the first test of its kind in North America," Cross said.
While high precision is not necessary for many signal-priority scenarios, Cross says there are specific situations where it is essential.
"Precision positioning is critical for applications like rail-worker safety and lane-specific signal response, and the availability of additional navigation systems improves accuracy, particularly in those areas where it's very difficult to obtain a satellite fix."
Similar technology is also used on EMTRAC transit-rail products, which alert train operators and wayside workers when there's potential for unsafe conditions.
"We need to be able to report which track a particular train or worker is on at a rail yard where there may be 10 or 15 sets of tracks, side by side," Cross said.
Cross added that all future deliveries for EMTRAC vehicle equipment will include Galileo capability, and vehicle equipment with Galileo capability will be compatible with existing EMTRAC wayside equipment, making upgrades to installed wayside equipment unnecessary.
STC has manufactured the EMTRAC system for over 25 years, and it is used by traffic, transit, and first-response agencies in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
EMTRAC Rail website: https://www.emtracrail.com
European Global Naviation Satellite Systems Agency website: https://www.gsc-europa.eu/system-status/Constellation-Information
EMTRAC System Testing by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)
February 28, 2017 – STC, Inc has been issued a U.S. patent for its EMTRAC Rail Worker Notification system, which notifies railway maintenance workers of approaching trains, as well as notifying train operators when their train is approaching wayside workers.
The EMTRAC notification system is comprised of two main components, the onboard Vehicle Computer Units and the Personal Notification Units carried by rail workers. Optional detection units may also be installed in wayside cabinets along the railway to extend communications or to enable real-time monitoring of vehicle and worker activity. The EMTRAC system also includes setup software so administrative personnel can configure the system according to specific agency requirements.
Worker alerts are delivered by a pulsed audio alarm, ultra-bright LED lights, and vibration. Rail agencies can configure these alerts based on the urgency of various situations. For example, wayside workers who are not directly adjacent to the track may receive lower-level alerts delivered only by LED display. Specific areas may also be designated silent zones where the system will not trigger alerts. This functionality is an important aspect of an effective notification system according to STC President Brad Cross.
Wayside Rail Maintenance
"Silent zones help reduce false alerts. This EMTRAC feature makes the system more user friendly because workers avoid alert fatigue, and they're also less likely to become complacent when alerts do occur."
The alert time-distances may also be customized to meet agency requirements. For example, the system may be set to alert rail workers 20 seconds before the trains estimated time of arrival at their location, giving workers time to move to a safe area and then acknowledge and silence the alert.
"Evaluations conducted by multiple light-rail agencies provided data to show that the EMTRAC Rail Worker Notification System outperforms the competition," Cross said.
Field tests of the EMTRAC system confirmed that the patented system met agency-defined requirements at the most challenging railway locations for both reliable positioning and timely alert communications. To see portions of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) field test, please watch the included video.
In addition to rail worker safety, STC, inc has provided EMTRAC signal priority systems to both transit and first-response agencies throughout North America for over 25 years.
September 14, 2016 - The EMTRAC System was initially developed in 1986 to enable first response vehicles to request priority through signalized intersections, and fire departments have used the EMTRAC system since that time to safely reduce response times. Transit agencies also use the EMTRAC system to improve schedule adherence, as well as to make use of safety features such as collision avoidance and wayside worker notifications.
At the very start, EMTRAC development engineers eschewed the methods used by legacy signal-priority products, namely optical systems that utilize pulsed flashing lights from vehicles requesting priority. Instead, the vehicle-to-intersection communication on the EMTRAC system was performed through wireless RF, a method that proved itself far more reliable and is still used today. In fact, the EMTRAC system was the first patent issued for a wireless, microprocessor-based priority system.
In the early 1990s, the ongoing development of GPS offered another way to improve the EMTRAC system, so team engineers began exploring how to best employ GPS on the existing EMTRAC system. At this point, satellite navigation still had many limitations of its own, including satellite signal strength, receiver sensitivity and processing time, selective availability, and an incomplete constellation of orbiting satellites.
The early EMTRAC GPS design was able to accommodate many of the existing limitations, but development engineers were still unsatisfied with the results. So in 2004, after successive satellite launches to replace and add to the GPS constellation, as well as improvements to receiver capabilities, the EMTRAC team released the GPS-capable system, which was subsequently tested against competing systems by traffic agencies in both the US and Canada.
As the benefits of Emergency Vehicle Preemption (EVP) were widely recognized in industry reports and recommendations, Transit Rail Priority (TSP) became a logical extension of EMTRAC system technology. This technology was not limited to buses though, as EMTRAC became an early adopter of system customization for transit rail, being utilized on both commuter rail and light rail vehicles.
Despite the positive results, EMTRAC engineers continue to look ahead to advances in technology, and they continue to develop new designs as new technologies become available, adding additional capabilities to the EMTRAC patent portfolio. Likewise, traffic, transit, and first-response agencies continue to offer their own ideas for enhancements to the EMTRAC system.
As system capabilities continue to evolve, the EMTRAC development team has also changed. The team is young and enthusiastic, and they are mindful of their ability to help improve both travel time and safety for those aboard EMTRAC-equipped vehicles. Their desire to collaborate with agencies and technological partners also remains. EMTRAC engineers keep in close contact with their counterparts at the various city and regional agencies using the system.
The distributors of the EMTRAC system also work closely with the traffic engineers and technicians, implementing enhancement suggestions and offering support when needed.
Transit rail is a key part of the future of transportation in North America, and the EMTRAC rail system must meet demanding operational and environmental requirements so that it reflects both the efficiency needs and safety needs of the forward-looking agencies using the system.
Please contact us for more information about the EMTRAC system and to receive detailed system specifications.
EMTRAC Distributor - Northwest Signal
July 21, 2015 - EMTRAC Systems is proud to announce the appointment of NWS Traffic, a Signal Group company, as our distributor in the following US states: Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Missouri.
Signal Group is a technology-driven company focused on shaping the future of intelligent traffic systems throughout North America and beyond. Signal Group holdings include NWS Traffic, Peek Traffic, Rayolite, and Teknotraffic. We look forward to NWS Traffic representing the EMTRAC Systems GPS/RF product line, and the new optical product line, in support of Emergency Vehicle Preemption and Transit Signal Priority.
The recently approved EMTRAC patents for Transit Signal Priority utilized on bus and rail applications will enhance both EMTRAC and NWS Traffic’s position within the marketplace. EMTRAC Systems will provide technical support and training to NWS Traffic staff as they strive to serve the marketplace.
Apple Campus 2 Rendering
June 26, 2015 - The new Apple campus, under construction in Cupertino, California, will be a four-story circular building that is planned to house over 12,000 employees, with a footprint that is 80-percent landscape and only 20-percent structure. As you would expect from Apple, progressive technology and environmental concern are important aspects of this massive project, which is scheduled to complete in 2016.
As part of this construction project, intersections adjacent to the campus will be equipped with EMTRAC signal priority. EMTRAC is a key provider of signal priority in this region, providing technology for both transit and first-response agencies.
As you would expect with a new campus of this size, traffic is expected to increase after the project is complete, and the EMTRAC system will enable first responders to travel both quickly and safely on area streets.
Transit agencies also benefit from EMTRAC Transit Signal Priority, as buses and trains are able to maintain schedule adherence, while preserving headway times, sending requests for actuated signals, responding to conditional scenarios in real time, and adapting priority requests based on current traffic conditions.
The EMTRAC Booth at APTA Expo 2014 in Houston, Texas
October 16, 2014 - The EMTRAC sales staff has been on a whirlwind tour this year, attending trade shows throughout North America and visiting current and future customers from Canada to Mexico.
Our most recent trade show (APTA Expo 2014) wrapped up October 15th in Houston, Texas. This show was billed as "Public Transportation's Premiere Showcase" and featured over 800 exhibitors—including ACT Traffic Solutions, the North American distributor of EMTRAC rail products.
EMTRAC President Kris Morgan was particularly pleased with the number of attendees who were looking to upgrade their current method of signal priority and vehicle detection.
"There's always people from agencies we've never talked to before, but we were a little surprised by the amount of people who were just not happy with the equipment they have now," said Morgan. "We have the largest bus installation of signal priority equipment in North America—and it works."
The ACT Traffic Solutions and EMTRAC sales staff also reported that they spent a lot of time talking with people about the cost savings inherent with the EMTRAC system.
"We save millions of dollars on installation, on maintenance, and we're very proud of our low failure rates. If anything does go wrong, it's much easier to correct because our system is all virtual. This show offered another great chance to share the advantages of the EMTRAC system."
As a result of these conversations, Morgan also said they were able to set up a number of on-site demonstrations and pilot programs for new EMTRAC technology, such as Rail-Worker Safety and Stop-Bar Overrun.
"I've got them in my calendar, and we're really looking forward to showing our system first hand. It's one thing to talk about what we can do, it's another to show it in action."
EMTRAC Representatives with iPad Winner
July 15, 2014 - Representatives of the EMTRAC system attended the APTA 2014 Rail Conference, which took place June 15-18 in Montréal. EMTRAC personnel were joined by representatives of ACT Traffic Solutions, the North American distributor of EMTRAC rail products.
The APTA Rail Conference is an important trade show for a wide range of transit-rail companies and attracted representatives from rail equipment manufacturers, to railway transit agencies, to manufacturers of all aspects of rail-vehicle components.
The EMTRAC-ACT Traffic Solutions booth included a video display that demonstrated their cutting-edge rail-vehicle and rail-worker safety products. The videos covered EMTRAC Positive Train Control (PTC) functions, as well as the EMTRAC right-of-way rail-worker notification system.
EMTRAC representatives also held a drawing for an iPad mini. The actual drawing was held on the last day of the show, and was won by Dave Geake who attended the show on behalf of Edmonton Transit System (ETS).
March 25, 2014 - We have posted a new video describing the EMTRAC Rail-Worker Safety system, which has passed acceptance testing conducted by Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). Click the following link to visit the Rail Workers page, where you can play the video. Scroll down to the Rail Worker Safety Video section to play the video.
PNU Demo on the VTA Light Rail Line
November 4, 2013 - During the past four years, we have enhanced the EMTRAC system to increase safety for transit-rail workers, as well as passengers and pedestrians.
We've worked closely with Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), as well as Houston METRO to develop the Personal Notification Unit (PNU), which is worn by rail-maintenance workers to warn them of approaching trains.
Due to these enhancements, the EMTRAC system is in a unique position to meet rail-transit safety requirements, such as those for the California Public Utilities Commissions (CPUC Res. 09-01-020), which addresses wayside worker safety.
In addition to wayside worker safety, the EMTRAC system also includes Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) functionality, and the ability to implement near-miss reporting, collision avoidance, speed-zone monitoring, positive train control, route and schedule adherence, and wireless communication at operation centers.
The following PDF links describe tests and results regarding EMTRAC rail safety:
The following white paper describes the functionality of the EMTRAC system in more detail:
Testing Long-Distance Optical Signals
March 27, 2013 - Traffic engineers from the Northern California region were able to watch demonstrations of the recently released EMTRAC optical Priority Detectors at the ITS trade show in Lodi, California on March 21st.
The Priority Detectors are installed in controller cabinets in place of phase selectors or signal processors (as they are called in optical-preemption applications). The Priority Detectors are able to receive signal-priority requests from all major brands of vehicle-mounted emitters, which flash pulsed frequencies of light toward pole-mounted detectors, which then forward the requests to the control cabinet.
At the trade show, EMTRAC Western Region Account Manager Luke Faubion, used third-party emitters (which are mounted on vehicles in the field) to show the EMTRAC system responding to optical priority requests—as well as RF requests sent by EMTRAC vehicle components.
Illustration of EMTRAC Optical-Request Signals
"The ST-9365 Priority Detector is basically a universal phase selector because it can interpret signal requests from any of the optical brands out there, and that's in addition to handling the 900 MHz requests that are sent from EMTRAC-equipped vehicles," Faubion said after the show.
This dual functionality was a particular area of interest for a lot of the traffic engineers because 80 to 90 percent of agencies with the ability to request signal priority are still using optical systems and are unable upgrade to the more advanced EMTRAC RF/GPS-based system all at once.
"Agencies can begin upgrading some of their vehicles to EMTRAC while leaving the optical system in other vehicles. Their upgraded vehicles can then request priority earlier—and more reliably—and they don't lose any functionality in the vehicles that still have optical equipment," Faubion added.
Optical/RF Priority Detector (top)
2 and 4-Channel Units (bottom)
In addition to the dual optical/RF Priority Detector, EMTRAC has also released two and four-channel optical-only Priority Detectors. As with the dual model, the optical-only units can easily be installed in directly into the input file of Type 170 control cabinets or may be provided with a Priority Detector Case for NEMA cabinets (when input-file space is not available). All optical units are capable of deciphering encoded signals.
Additionally, all units are provided with the EMTRAC Systems Manager software, which enables agency personnel to easily customize system settings, including:
For specific information about how the EMTRAC system works with optical preemption systems, please refer to the following page:
KM Enterprises (dba "EMTRAC Systems") filed an antitrust complaint against Global Traffic Technologies (GTT) on March 23, 2012 in United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. The complaint alleges that GTT engaged in monopolization activities through a series of practices designed to manipulate the market while eliminating competitors from consideration during the competitive-bidding process.
Among other practices, the complaint claims that GTT participated in conduct amounting to "illegal tying" where a competitor manipulates the market for its product by requiring that maintenance of its obsolete product is tied to upgrades and future purchases of a new product for which there is market competition. The complaint also claims that GTT influenced the results of a bid in its favor by illicitly learning the low-bid amount for the purpose of beating that price.
About KM Enterprises, Inc.
Headquartered in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, KM Enterprises, Inc. markets the EMTRAC Priority Management System—a system that utilizes precise navigation technology and secure RF communication to enable equipped transit, emergency, and municipal vehicles to place priority or preemption requests to intersection signal-control equipment. The EMTRAC System is the leading GPS-based priority and preemption system in the industry.
Click here to open a printable PDF copy of this news story.
Click here to open a PDF copy of the full legal complaint.
March 9, 2012 - A new white paper is available, which describes some of the specific ways our customers have implemented the EMTRAC system to improve safety and timeliness for their transit agencies.
Each customer has their own particular challenges to address. Whether it be ensuring that light-rail train operators obey traffic signals (as with Houston METRO) or granting signal priority for buses behind schedule (as with Metro Transit in Minneapolis), the EMTRAC system is capable of meeting a wide array of transit-agency needs.
New BRT Station in Brampton, ON
May 24, 2011 - The March/April 2011 IMSA Ontario newsletter highlighted the new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service that is currently being expanded in Brampton, Ontario. This advanced BRT service was carefully designed to meet specific reliability and efficiency recommendations—and it is the first of its kind in North America.
We are happy to report that the EMTRAC Priority Management System was selected as the signal priority provider for this leading-edge service. In addition to providing conditional signal priority, the EMTRAC system also provides Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) functionality, enabling monitoring personnel to track vehicle locations in real time. These features are described in more detail in the IMSA Ontario article below.
Located in the Toronto metropolitan area, Brampton has a population of over 480,000 people and is one of only 10 cities in North America to be designated as an International Safe Community by the World Health Organization. For more information, please visit the Brampton Transit, Brampton City, and IMSA Ontario web sites.
IMSA Ontario Article: City of Brampton - Transit Signal Priority
Dedicated BRT Land and Signal
In 2007, the City of Brampton, in partnership with the federal and provincial governments, secured funding to implement Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) along three corridors within Brampton. On September 20, 2010, the City unveiled the result of that partnership: Züm, its new BRT service.
The service currently runs along the busy Queen Street corridor, from downtown Brampton to York University. It will expand to Brampton's Main Street/Hurontario Street in the fall of 2011, and Steeles Avenue in the fall of 2012.
In order to accommodate Züm and ensure that the service would be reliable, efficient, and cost effective, the City retained a consultant to review the existing traffic management system and field hardware. The proposal scope required the consultant to review the current technologies available to the market and recommend a Transit Signal Priority (TSP) system to meet the City's current and future needs.
Recommendations from the review included:
The TSP system reduces transit vehicle travel times and schedule variability while minimizing the impact on other traffic. If the transit vehicle is running behind schedule, the system accommodates it by either extending the green phase or shortening the red time (reducing the conflicting green phase times), allowing the vehicle to obtain a green indication sooner.
In order to do this, the TSP system uses a combination of onboard and on-street system architecture. The onboard system receives priority requests from the transit vehicle's Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) system. The AVL system tracks the transit vehicle's position relative to its schedule and can accommodate conditional parameters, such as levels of lateness and number of passengers onboard.
The on-street system takes advantage of features built in the traffic signal controller and TSP/EVP firmware. Specifically, the firmware includes the capability of using multiple 'check-in' detectors based on selectable time-points (in lieu of fixed distance points). In utilizing time-points, priority requests are transmitted to the traffic signal controller based upon the Estimated Time En route (ETE) of the transit vehicle. The algorithms used to calculate the ETE time points in the field and central equipment are what make this system unique to North America. Unlike detection zones that track the vehicle's Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) from a defined x/y coordinate, the TSP system's time-points react in real time, to on-street congestion. Therefore, as traffic volumes fluctuate, so do the time-points.
Finally, a Global Positioning System (GPS) determines the transit vehicle's location based on its coordinates and sends a wireless 900 MHz frequency to upcoming intersections. As the transit vehicle arrives at each advanced time-point, the traffic controller preconditions its internal timings in preparation of the oncoming transit vehicle (under low priority for transit). The advanced time-points help the traffic controller to gradually modify the timings to reduce the impact to the intersection while ensuring the intersection maintains coordination.
In time for the arrival of Züm on Queen Street, a new transit terminal was built adjacent to the Bramalea City Centre. An exclusive transit lane was constructed to keep transit vehicles on schedule as they leave the terminal. Dedicated traffic signal heads with white bar transit priority indications and video detection allow transit vehicles to exit the terminal on a protected phase twice per cycle.
Since its official launch in September, Züm has been operating at near capacity and Brampton Transit has benefited from the highest monthly ridership numbers in its history. Feedback from riders has been positive, with many noting that Züm has set a new standard for public transit in Canada, if not North America.
February 15, 2011 - The Florida Department of Transportation has approved the EMTRAC Priority Management system components for inclusion on their Approved Product List (APL). As a part of this process, the EMTRAC components were evaluated against the FDOT's minimum specifications for Traffic Control Signals and Devices (Section A700, July 2010).
The Florida DOT vendor and product evaluation processes is widely considered one of the most rigorous in the country. Click here to open the FDOT Approved Product List in a new window.
November 5, 2010 - KM Enterprises, Inc. filed a Complaint today against Global Traffic Technologies, LLC (GTT) in United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. The Complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that GTT's United States Patent No. 5,539,398 is invalid and not infringed by KM Enterprises™ EMTRAC Priority Management System. Last month, GTT incorrectly asserted the '398 Patent against a non-existent corporation, EMTRAC Systems, Inc., as well as the President of KM Enterprises, Kris Morgan, and his two sons, who are neither officers nor shareholders of KM Enterprises. To combat the confusion in the marketplace caused by GTT's misdirected lawsuit, KM Enterprises filed today's Complaint. KM Enterprises asserts in its Complaint that GTT's '398 Patent is invalid and does not reach KM Enterprises' products. KM Enterprises also seeks damages and an injunction against GTT for the false advertising of its products, for interfering with prospective contractual relations and for deceptive trade practices.
About KM Enterprises, Inc.
Headquartered in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, KM Enterprises, Inc. markets the EMTRAC Priority Management System, a system that uses precise navigation technology and secure RF communication to detect equipped transit, emergency, and municipal vehicles to place priority or preemption requests to intersection signal-control equipment. The EMTRAC System is the leading GPS-based priority and preemption system in the industry.
Click here to open a PDF copy of this news story.
Click here to open a PDF copy of the full legal complaint.
As first-response and transit agencies throughout North America have discovered, there are many benefits that can be realized by the use of EVP/TSP technology. Click the following link to open a paper that was recently presented by EMTRAC's James Jarzab at the 5th International Conference on Social Science Research. This paper evaluates use of Intelligent Transportation Systems to cost-effectively implement disaster-mitigation procedures.
September 2, 2010 - As part of a third party installation acceptance test for VTA of San Jose, California in July of 2010, Caltrans was asked to verify compliance of the installation with standard specifications. In the process of acceptance testing, the range of EMTRAC equipment transmissions were calculated along El Camino Real in Santa Clara County. The test was supervised by Caltrans engineers; a sample of field observations were generated with the following test procedures:
A floating car was used to replicate a VTA bus operating along El Camino Real, with the antenna placed at approximately 30 inches above pavement resting on the dash board inside of a sub-compact Caltrans staff car
Revenue service conditions for this deployment type would have involved a transit bus with antenna mounted approximately 10 feet above pavement. Under the circumstances the test used an antenna deployed seven and one-half feet below standard height, which—as anticipated—significantly reduced observed detection range. Actual test results yielded acceptable revenue service ranges for transit applications with the minimum transmission distance measured at 1300 feet
March 26, 2010 - On February 22, EMTRAC's own Jim Jarzab summarized the current state of BRT practices during his opening remarks at the Urban Transport World conference in Sydney, Australia.
As Co-Chair of the NTCIP 1211 Emergency Vehicle Preemption and Transit Signal Priority standards committee, Jim Jarzab is a valuable resource about the specific strategies available to municipalities looking to implement a cost-effective Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. Mr. Jarzab's remarks included the following points:
"Many notable BRT projects have been developed around the world over the past two decades. Up to this point, the most successful projects have operated on exclusive rights-of-way in a manner, and at a comparable cost, to light rail. This comparison has often led to debates regarding the relative merits of investments in light rail transit compared to BRT.
"Advances in electronic data storage and information-processing speeds have allowed for transit operators in virtual rights-of-way using advanced vehicle location and identification (AVL/AVI), as well as sophisticated traffic control software, to replicate the safety and functionality of exclusive rights-of-way without the physical structures and resulting adverse community impacts. Sometimes called 'rapid bus', these BRT applications greatly expand the effective range of faster bus operations with enhanced schedule adherence, giving the traveling public better service with minimal investment in additional land or other infrastructure.
"These Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) components expand the sites suitable for successful BRT applications by an order of magnitude. Modern public transportation services are no longer restricted to large metropolitan areas with significant political influence and abandoned rail rights-of-way available to exploit. With apologies to Churchill: 'This is not the end, or even the beginning of the end but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning' with respect to BRT development."
VTA Rapid Transit Bus
February 8, 2010 - Based in Santa Clara, the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) serves the transit needs of six municipalities. Their bus and light-rail lines have seen significant increases in ridership each of the past five years, and VTA has continued studying and implementing improvement programs to better serve their growing number of riders.
One study in particular examined the increase in average operating speed provided by the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) application of Bus Signal Priority (BSP) in rapid bus operation as compared to traditional local bus operation. This study evaluated two methods of signal priority, an in-ground loop and detector system and an EMTRAC GPS and RF-based vehicle detection system.
The study noted that signal priority enabled the operation of rapid bus service with reduced stops and more liberal operating rules than local service. Buses receiving priority traveled 18.4 percent faster than those without priority. Further, buses receiving priority using the EMTRAC system traveled 23 percent faster than those without priority.
Another advantage the EMTRAC system offers is that there is no need to bury in-ground loops, enabling municipalities to improve on-time bus performance without requiring costly sub-surface installations.
From a financial standpoint, public transit has few opportunities to implement productivity improvements. The approximately 20 percent gains from Bus Signal Priority are very important to transit agencies from a resource-allocation perspective. An improvement of 20 percent equates to an effective operating savings for VTA of nearly $1 million annually. Since 2005, operating and maintenance costs for the BSP elements have been negligible, with no equipment failures encountered since installation. Capital costs for BSP average less than $10,000 per intersection and $3,000 per bus.
The use of Bus Signal Priority in combination with other BRT features has proven to have the desired effect on vehicle operations, and thus fulfills the goals of ITS projects. Not only are the results statistically significant, but rider gains in the corridor also accompany the perceived improvement in service quality by the public.
VTA's experience with BSP is similar to that of other transit agencies across the nation. Bus Signal Priority is one of the few cost effective tools available to public transit agencies that improve productivity without adverse consequences. BSP is a foundation element for VTA's extensive Bus Rapid Transit planning effort, and it is likely that BSP will will be a major component of transit operations industry-wide in the near future.