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Bus Co. Keeps Tabs on Fare Boxes
After a proof-of-technology pilot, a Vancouver bus company plans to roll out an active RFID system to track its buses and fare-collection equipment.
Sep 19, 2005—Fare collection is the most common RFID application in mass transit systems. But if and when commuters and students who ride buses operated by the Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC), start paying with RFID, the bus company will likely already be using the technology for other applications.
Coast Mountain, located in Vancouver, British Columbia, is a subsidiary of TransLink, greater Vancouver's transportation authority. This summer, Coast Mountain completed a pilot project with IDENTEC SOLUTIONS, a provider of active RFID systems for asset tracking. The program was designed to evaluate whether IDENTEC SOLUTIONS' active tags could be used for tracking Coast Mountain’s fare and cash boxes. The pilot has proven that the technology works, and now CMBC plans to deploy IDENTEC SOLUTIONS' active tags across its fleet of 1,200 buses.
CMBC will roll out full deployments of the two initiatives tested in the pilot. The first involves tracking individual fare boxes in the company’s inventory and maintenance systems. The other entails identifying each bus and associating it with the specific fare box—and the steel cash box secured within it—on that bus.
The fare box, a steel-and-glass receptacle into which passengers insert fares, recognizes and tabulates Canadian coins dropped into its coin slot. The coins then fall into the cash box. CMBC will also use the tags to track individual malfunctioning fare boxes as they move through the maintenance cycle.
IDENTEC SOLUTIONS, based in Kelowna, British Columbia, worked closely with CMBC's maintenance and fare-collection departments and IT staff to develop the pilot, which was conducted between April and June 2005. CMBC's transit center in Burnaby, British Columbia—one of six facilities in the Vancouver vicinity that CMBC uses for bus maintenance and storage—was the site for the pilot.
The objective was to track the location and movement of fare boxes, cash boxes and buses by unique asset number when they were in proximity of two readers (interrogators) installed in the Burnaby transit center. One reader was installed near a station called the cash-box island, where workers make daily swaps of full cash boxes for empty ones at the end of each bus shift. The other was installed near the entrance to the Burnaby maintenance facility.
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