Brno Public Transport Authority (Dopravní podnik města Brna, a.s.) created a modern tool for the control of local public transport back in 2004, a tool that was quite unique in the world and that is used primarily to immediately identify deviations in the operation of local public transport and rectify these quickly and successfully. The information available allows the dispatcher to takes decisions based on actual, undistorted, objective facts. Moreover, the system allows for immediate checking of the response to the dispatcher’s decision. The control and information system (“RIS”) is therefore a crucial element in ensuring the safety, quality, economic efficiency and culture of transport operated by DPMB, a.s.
RIS is based on a data radio network that ensures continual contact between all local public transport vehicles and dispatching. Each vehicle automatically informs dispatching of its operating data every 25 seconds, including the actual time of departing a stop, actual location according to GPS satellite navigation and other important operating data. If required, text messages and commands for information facilities for passengers are sent from the vehicle to central office, and vice versa. RIS also ensures telephone communication between the dispatcher and the driver of a particular vehicle or group of vehicles and if required allows the dispatcher to talk to passengers in a vehicle over loudspeakers.
Dispatchers are able to display data about operation as a table of vehicles on individual lines and as a visual of operation directly on a digital map of Brno. The location of vehicles is shown on the map in real scale and each vehicle has a coloured tag featuring the most important operating data. The colour of the tag denotes a real-time deviation from the timetable, meaning that the dispatcher is easily able to identify the vehicles that are ahead of schedule, delayed or deviating from the set route. Of course, our dispatchers are happiest when they can see a screen full of vehicles with green tags that are travelling within the permitted parameters.
The information system allows us to ensure that the information provided to passengers is of a relatively high quality. All vehicles are fitted with sound systems, the names of the stops being announced en-route, together with other important travel information. Audio information is pointedly provided to passengers together with the visual information displayed on banners inside and outside the vehicle, meaning at the right time and in the right place. Communication between the system in the vehicle and the remote control system for the blind is a matter of course.
The control and information system ensures that local public transport vehicles are given preference more effectively at controlled crossings. A delayed vehicle sends a preference request from a pre-determined place by way of radio data transmission. The traffic light control unit receives information about the route the bus takes when passing through the crossing and about the delay and can therefore appropriately allow the vehicle to pass smoothly through the crossing within the traffic light signalling plan. This so-called dynamic preference makes it possible to manage each and every second of the traffic signal plan and as a consequence ensures better passability for all vehicles, not only trams, trolley buses and buses.
The data recorded by the control and information system is archived, meaning that public transport operation can also be evaluated retrospectively and for a longer period of time. We use this opportunity when responding to situations and complaints and suggestions from passengers and when evaluating delays on specific lines or in specific places. General awareness that the control and information system in place means that human error on the part of our staff cannot be kept a secret is now of considerable importance to the quality of transport. Evidence for this is provided by the fact that the vast majority of complaints are evaluated as being unfounded based on the data recorded by the control and information system.