In a series of articles about Oslo (1,2,3,4,5), we have seen how Ruter, the local transportation agency, has implemented the smart mobility. It is time to return to Utopia and see how is UPITA implementing a similar infrastructure, especially when having a small budget comparing to the public transport agencies in other capitals of the world.
UPITA has a network of buses and tramways. The downtown is an area with a relatively dense traffic of vehicles. The central railway station adds to that.
The backbone is made of the tram network. It is a combination of radial and circular lines, designed to cover as much of the urban area as possible. Additionally, two dozen bus lines connect fill in the gaps and cover the rest of the city. The average distance between two bus stops is 300m, while the tram stations are spaced by 500m.
The stops in general
All the vehicles are equipped with real-time GPS positioning systems, that send the position to the Upita’s dispatch every 10 seconds, using LoRA. Similarly, all the stops in Upita’s network have real-time displays.
All stops have Bluetooth beacons. The uWand mobile application has been designed to interact with the beacons and provide additional information to the passengers. Most of the time it is about accurate positioning of the cell phone, but depending on the number of people waiting for the bus or tram, the Bluetooth experience can become very personal.
The bus stops
They are served by up to 4 bus lines. In case of more than 4 buses that stop at a place, there are additional stops, each corresponding to 4 bus lines. Depending on the number of buses, there are one or two real time displays. They communicate with the central dispatch through LoRA.
There are some advantages in using an IoT network instead of a cable or mobile network. UPITA has committed to sustainability. Small-powered IoT devices are more environment friendly than the cable-powered equipment. The cost and time of adding a new stop to the transportation network is significantly reduced, compared to the traditional way.
The stop is powered by batteries, which are charged by solar panels. So far, the sunny weather in Utopia allowed seamless functioning of the whole network. When road maintenance is required, the stop can be moved easily several tens of meters and still function normally.
On average, there are always 20 bus stops under maintenance, but the people hardly notice them.
The tram stops
Unlike their bus counterpart, the tram stops are more dependent onto the physical tracks. Both types of stops have similar designs. The passengers familiar with the bus stops find the same ease of use at the tram stops.
The stops for the tram lines are better powered, have bigger displays and are more integrated into the infrastructure. The real-time inbound feed uses a wired connection. The GPS position of the tram is doubled by sensors embedded in the tracks. The tram and the rail become a complex ecosystem that lives on its own.
Sharing the stop
In some cases, the bus and the tram share the physical stop. When using a multi modal stop, the costs are largely reduced and people can get on and off more easily. Also, eliminating the traditional road crossing between the tram stop and the bus stop is an additional step towards a safer public transportation.