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RFID Helps Keep Utah Transit Authority on Track

UTA is deploying passive RFID tags and readers to manage rail cars and components, schedule their maintenance and inspection, and comply with federal rules.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 12, 2015

Following a one-year pilot, Salt Lake City area bus and rail service provider Utah Transit Authority (UTA) is deploying an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID-based solution to record when its light-rail trains enter and leave the maintenance yard, and also to track as many as 22 components installed on each car. The system enables the transit authority to better manage its rail fleet, the maintenance of its trains, and individual components.

UTA serves 2.2 million people throughout the Salt Lake City area, and operates 700 buses, 400 vans, 146 light-rail cars and 60 commuter-rail cars. Altogether, its rail vehicles travel 200 miles of track. Since the system was piloted on four cars for one of its rail lines during the past year at its maintenance yard, the transit authority is now expanding the system's use, so that all 146 of its light-rail vehicles and their components can be tracked via RFID. UTA's long-term plans include using the technology to also track its commuter-rail cars and buses, as well as their components.

UTA is attaching Omni-ID RFID tags to all of its Siemens S70 light-rail passenger cars.
In 2012, federal legislation known as the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP 21) was passed. It is anticipated that the final ruling will require transit agencies to conduct periodic assessments of their capital assets, including their passenger vehicles (known in the transit industry as revenue vehicles). In response to this legislation, UTA needed to set up a program to assess the conditions of its trains and buses, and ultimately to ensure their safe and efficient operation.

UTA's Kyle Stockley
The transit authority wanted to go a step further, however, says Kyle Stockley, one of the agency's asset administrators. "We wanted to automate the tracking of the major components and their systems," he explains. "When applying the tracking system to its vehicles, UTA decided that a condition assessment for the vehicle itself fell short of the intent of the legislation. To understand how the asset is performing, we needed to take it down a level."

UTA's goal was to understand the condition not only of the vehicles themselves, but also of their major systems and components. "Only then could we truly assess the condition of our revenue service vehicles," Stockley states. The best way to track that condition, he adds, was to monitor when and how often the vehicles and components were used.

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