Monday, December 19, 2011
As we have seen and heard for the past couple years now, TriMet has claimed financial impairment. Even though TriMet’s ridership has increased significantly by recent reports, TriMet’s General Manager Neil McFarlane recently made a plea to the public, asking for ideas and suggestions as to how TriMet can save taxpayer dollars. TriMet claims it is facing a 2013 budget shortfall of 12 to 17 million dollars. One thing TriMet and General Manager McFarlane didn’t tell the public, is that they could save multi-millions of taxpayer dollars annually, right now, on their own.
Back in 1997, TriMet was one of the first transit agencies to deploy an advanced CAD/AVL (computer aided dispatch/automatic vehicle locator) system. As it approaches its fifteenth year of service, this system—which we call BDS (bus dispatch system)-is far from “state of the art.” In fact, the BDS is incapable of complying with a pending Federal Communication Commission (FCC) mandate. So beyond old age, the BDS needs to be replaced to meet FCC requirements. The new equipment on board the bus will be different but the basic function—sending and receiving voice calls and text message to/from Dispatch—will be the same as the current BDS; and the menu is designed to be intuitive and similar to the existing system. Like the existing BDS, the new system will also provide Dispatch with information on the location of your bus and its status (e.g. late, early, on/off route, etc.). The new BDS will be rolled out on TriMet buses in 2012. Operator training will begin in February 2012. Merlo garage operators will be the first to be trained and the first to operate the new BDS. By the end of April, initial training of all operators should be completed.