At the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority Board meeting on November 10, 2016, funds were approved that will allow Lynx to implement several major technology upgrades that will enhance the passenger experience.
Free Wi-Fi Service Fleetwide on Lynx
Wi-Fi is currently in a beta test on 30 vehicles (about 10% of the Lynx fleet). Beginning in December 2016, the service will be rolled out to the remaining 270 buses and a full-scale marketing campaign will begin in January 2017.
Lynx will be installing cellular modems and Wi-Fi routers on the entire fixed-route bus fleet and providing cellular-based Wi-Fi service to customers. Internet security software consisting of bandwidth management (restricting streaming video and other high bandwidth applications) and content filters (to prevent pornography and other objectionable content) will be utilized to ensure a reliable Internet speed and pleasant experience for passengers.
Lynx is spending $182,000 on the initial installation of the equipment, and will incur annual costs of just over $175,000 to provide the cellular Internet signal ($36 per bus per month), security software and device maintenance and support.
Free Wi-Fi is quickly becoming an expected amenity, and we applaud Lynx for providing this service that will benefit both captive and choice riders who have a limited data plan or who want to get some work done while in transit.
Real-Time Bus Tracking App for Smartphones
|Concept of Lynx Real-Time|
Bus Tracking App
The Lynx board also approved funds for development of a “real-time” vehicle-tracking app for use with fixed-route buses, NeighborLink and AccessLynx services.
The app will utilize data from Lynx’s existing computer-aided dispatch systems.
For fixed-route buses and Lymmo, development of the application will begin this month and last through December 2016, with a pilot/beta-test expected in January 2017 and a full rollout in April 2017.
For NeighborLink, the app will allow for real-time trip requests as well as vehicle-tracking. The NeighborLink technology has already been tested and will begin a soft roll out in January 2017 with full implementation expected in March 2017.
|Concept of NeighborLink|
Real-Time Tracking App
Costs for the Real-Time Tracking App are expected to be $40,000 for development and $80,000 annually for hosting and maintenance for fixed route/Lymmo; $888,000 is budgeted for development/implementation and $25,000 annually for NeighborLink and $132,000 development/implementation and $30,000 annual operating costs for Access Lynx. Much of the development and implementation cost is being funded by grants. The app is being built with "open architecture" that can tie in SunRail, Votran and other area transit systems in the future.
This app will be a useful, practical amenity that is sure to increase passenger satisfaction and allow passengers to better manage their time when waiting for delayed buses. We're really excited about this one.
Mobile Fare Collection
|Concept of Mobile|
Mobile Fare Collection is currently in the procurement phase, with an employee beta-test expected to begin in December 2016 and a passenger pilot coming in January 2017.
The Lynx board will evaluate the trial results in March 2017 and a award a contract, will a full roll out of the chosen technology to begin in May 2017.
We’re a bit skeptical about the practicality of, but intrigued by, the Mobile Fare concept and will be watching the program closely to share new developments as things progress.
We're thrilled that Lynx is making these investments in technology with the passenger in mind. Which of these three technology-driven projects are you most excited about? Why? Tell us in the comments!