Geospatial Technology Review - E-Commerce and Next Bus Arrival Project Status Update (FOR INFORMATION) (Presentation Available) (Report to Follow)
Meeting Date:November 14, 2007
Subject: Geospatial Technology Review – E-Commerce And Next Bus Arrival Project Status Update
It is recommended that the Commission receive this report and presentation for discussion and direction, noting that
project work beyond 2007 is included in the proposed budget being submitted to the Commission for approval at the December Commission meeting.
An amendment to the Capital Program was approved by the Commission in March 2007 for these projects under 7.2 Intelligent Transportation & Technical Systems to accommodate proceeding with these initiatives in 2007 in the total amount of $400,000. Full project implementation costs of $6,400,000 are included in the 2008 – 2012 Capital Program submission.
In February 2007, as part of the Geospatial Technology Review, the TTC E-Systems Committee requested Commission staff to investigate the feasibility and implementation options for five new initiatives related to improved dissemination of customer information.
In order to allow for the immediate commencement of unbudgeted project work associated with the new customer information system initiatives, the Commission authorized budget approval of $400,000 in 2007 for the e-Commerce and Next Bus Arrival initiatives. Staff commenced work on these initiatives and advised the Commission that status reports would be provided to the e-Systems Committee in August and October 2007.
Following is a detailed status update for the Next Bus Arrival and E-Commerce initiatives. A presentation reviewing the status of these initiatives has been provided to the e-Systems Committee in August, September and October of 2007. Additional information regarding two other customer service improvement initiatives, namely TTC Wedsite Redesign and Wheel-Trans Remote Trip Booking, is also included.
Next Bus Arrival
A Next Bus Arrival System (NBAS) is a collection of computer hardware, software, and GPS technology, used for capturing, managing, analysing and displaying vehicle location and/or predicted arrival times. This information is broadcasted to electronic signs at bus stops and subway stations, to the Internet and to wireless devices such as cell phones and PDA’s.
An NBAS requires as input, accurate vehicle location data provided on a periodic basis. The TTC currently has an Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) system called the Communication and Information System (CIS). In addition, the TTC is also developing a central Geographical Information Systems (GIS) which is a data repository and truth of source for TTC geographical data sets. The plan is to use CIS and the central GIS data to provide the basic vehicle location information. This information will be used to further calculate and predict the estimated arrival time for vehicles at a particular stop.
The City of Toronto Street Furniture initiative is currently in the initial stages of installing transit shelters and other equipment at 6000+ bus stops, over the next 20 years. Discussions have commenced regarding the integration with the NBAS project, in order to identify cost sharing opportunities.
The current status of the assessment phase of the project is as follows:
- Define business objectives, goals and needs[Ongoing]
- Request for Information (RFI) [Completed]
- Presentations by Seven (7) RFI Respondents[Completed]
- Transit survey/questionnaire [Completed]
- Analysis of survey information [Ongoing]
- Develop high-level project plan [Ongoing]
Once the full project is endorsed by the Commission, the TTC will undertake to select a NBAS system vendor(s) using the RFP process. TTC staff will work with the vendor(s) to design and install the NBAS software application and web based component as well as the NBAS display units in the bus shelters and subway stations. The NBAS Internet based application will seamlessly integrate with the existing or redesigned TTC website. The initial pilot phase will include 12 bus stops. An evaluation of the success and overall satisfaction with the solution will be performed at this time. Based upon the results of the pilot, the remainder of the system contract would be awarded. A total of $5,200,000 has been budgeted for the overall project costs, which includes $200,000 for 2007 project work.
The purpose of this project is to implement an electronic sales channel to allow patrons to purchase TTC fare media via the Internet. Fare media includes GTA passes, monthly passes, weekly passes, day passes, tickets and tokens.
Currently TTC fare media can be purchased in-person at Subway Station Collector’s Booths, Pass Vending Machines, Ticket Vending Machines, Ticket Sales Agents, Customer Sales Centers, and via various subscription processes offered by the TTC (i.e. Metropass Discount Plan).
The proposed approach involves a phased implementation, beginning with an assessment phase. The key activities during the assessment phase are to identify the TTC’s key business objectives; to research the existing marketplace for viable solutions; and to understand the current practices of similar transit agencies relative to e-Commerce. Thus far the assessment has found interested external service providers currently providing totally outsourced solutions for similar e-Commerce business. Therefore, the feasibility study concludes that it is viable to contract an external provider to supply a totally outsourced service solution which includes the up-front project activities of web-site development, and the on-going operational activities of administration, customer support, order management, order fulfillment and financial remittance. The current status of the assessment phase of the project is as follows:
- RFI [Completed]
- Identify Key Business Objectives[Completed]
- Vendor Interviews [Completed]
- Transit agencies interviews [Ongoing]
- Publish Feasibility Study [Ongoing]
Once the full project is endorsed by the Commission, the TTC will undertake to select an external service provider to provide an e-Commerce website which would be integrated with the existing or redesigned TTC website. The TTC e-Commerce website would launch the sale of fare media in phases. In Phase I patrons would be able to purchase GTA passes, monthly, weekly and day passes, only. An evaluation of the success and overall satisfaction with the solution will be performed at this time. Depending on the success of Phase I, Phase II will launch the additional sale of tickets and tokens. A total of $1,200,000 has been budgeted for overall project costs, which includes $200,000 for 2007 project work.
It should be noted that the draft Capital Budget ‘Blue Pages’ for the TTC contains the initial $400,000 to conduct the implementation studies for these new initiatives in 2007. The project initiation and final implementation costs of approximately $6,400,000 have been included in the TTC Capital Budget.
TTC Website Redesign
In addition to the foregoing initiatives, staff is concurrently working on the redevelopment and redesign of the TTC website, www.ttc.ca. The TTC is committed to making its website accessible in order to better meet the information needs of the general public, including people with disabilities. With more than 11.4 million visits annually in 2006, www.ttc.ca is the most frequently used source of TTC information. The existing website is almost ten years old and has not been updated since inception.
The new website will be accessible, visually appealing, simple and easy to use with direct access to relevant, key information and flexible to accommodate future geospatial applications such as Next Bus Arrival and E-Commerce. Monies have been allocated in the operating budget for this project.
A presentation reviewing the status of this project has been provided to the e-Systems Committee in January, February and May of 2007. The current status is of the website project is as follows:
- Public consultation Completed
- Request for Information (RFI) Completed
- Request for Proposal (RFP)Completed
- Evaluation Underway
The redevelopment and redesign work will begin following Commission approval in January 2008 with the launch of the new site planned for late spring 2008.
Wheel-Trans Remote Trip Booking
Wheel-Trans Information System (WTIS) is an award winning application originally developed in 1992-1994. WTIS is a 20/7 mission critical system, providing customer service, trip reservation, operator/dispatch functions and the daily creation of schedules. Since its implementation, WTIS has continued to evolve and be enhanced. Among these enhancements, Remote Trip Booking will allow Wheel-Trans patrons to remotely reserve (book) trips, inquire about reserved trips (implemented in 2006), and cancel reserved trips via the Internet. This added functionality will provide an alternate means of performing routine activities related to Wheel-Trans trips and submitting queries or reports to a Community Services Representative (CSR). The remaining project work associated with this initiative is scheduled to be completed in February 2008. This added functionality is necessary to achieve additional service and cost efficiencies which will allow Wheel-Trans to continue to deliver the same calibre of service.
Choosing and sequencing investments in technologies, processes, and people to increase productivity and customer service present challenges to the transit manager, who must weigh the costs, benefits, and risks of changing the ways services are delivered. Prudent application of a standard for TTC Geospatial technology is essential in order to ensure that consistent and lowest cost application of the technology is achieved. These customer information system initiatives are key to providing TTC patrons with the information they need to improve the efficiency of their use of transit services.
October 31, 2007