Hosted by TransLink and South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority, the Trans-Expo 2010 is an annual event aimed at bringing transit professionals together across Canada. This year the gathering is held at the Vancouver Convention Centre on November 16, 2010. Nearly 100 exhibitors set up booths at West Exhibit Hall C to showcase their mostly environmental-friendly products. Trans-Expo 2010 is part of the fall conference of the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA).
The theme of the exhibit and conference is “Moving Experiences”. The Honorable Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Province of British Columbia was on hand at Trans-Expo 2010 and did a tour of a double-deck bus that is now on trial in Victoria, BC.
For the public, a good riding experience starts at the bus shelter. To that end, as John Duthie of Daytech explains, his company builds structurally engineered shelters with a street furniture design that are easy to install, do not rust as they are made of aluminum and built to withstand extreme environment. There are no stock items at Datech as such. Everything is made-to-order to fit in with the urban landscaping of a particular community so the public feels right at home as they wait for the bus to arrive to pick them up.
Quite a good number of newer and yet everyday technologies are also incorporated into the public transit system, many with sustainability features. Diesel-Electric hybrid engine, LED lighting, solar-powered devices, GPS, Wi-Fi, H.264 video codec etc. Many of these technologies are also not alien to the average consumer.
Solar-powered credit card parking meters are already in use on Vancouver streets today. There are actually 300 of those around the city. Practically every car-makers have a hybrid vehicle in their line and some are pushing hard for an all-electric model. GPS navigation systems is becoming a must-have feature in smartphones. Wi-Fi access to the Internet is widely available in coffee shops and even Mcdonald’s restaurants. H.264 are the cornerstone of the newer generations of video camcorders that record in the popular AVCHD format.
Depending on the cost of implementation, newer transportation system devices are or can be GPS enabled. For certain functions, it is a necessity such as stop announcement as in the double deck bus which will be discussed later requires real-time data obtained through a GPS link.
Many of the features are intended to give transit riders a more comfortable and enjoyable experience. With touchscreen interface being so common in many consumer electronic gadgets these days, New Flyer Industries thought the same effortless way of interaction could be applied to buses too. No more grabbing a handle and pushing it open to get off the bus. A touch on the doorframe would suffice. The bus driver is taken care of as well. Leather driver seats are available as an option on buses that New Flyer manufacture.
Video continues to be a driving force for security, litigation, monitoring, drivers training, fleet management and operation in the transportation industry. Cameras are being mounted inside and outside buses in strategic locations. These cameras offer wide-angle views that provide continuous visual data that can be stored onboard a computer inside the bus or monitored in real-time by transit operators in a back office. The latter idea is similar to the eye-in-the-sky concept in a casino monitoring situation. Interactive ticket vending machines made by a company like Parkeon has chip-embedded smart cards and mobile phone payment as the preferred methods of transaction although cash and credit card are still accepted. The device is solar-powered and requires no battery. 600 of these machines will replace 4,000 parking meters on the streets of Ottawa, ON.
Video is often compressed using H.264 codec for storage and processing efficiency. Frame rates varies from 15-30 fps which give a realistic rendition of motion. One company, Seon, offers the 720×480 format for a 16:9 aspect ratio just like your HDTV at home, although the resolution for this security system is not quite up to high-definition that has a minimum resolution of 1280×720 pixels.
Double deck bus is a concept that works well in a city like Victoria BC. Currently, there are 58 double-deckers operating in BC’s capital city. Since March 2009, Victoria has been testing a new diesel-electric double-decker. The pilot project consists of one hybrid vehicle by Alexander Dennis Ltd. (ADL) and the trial will last until mid-2011. According to Stephen Walsh, a vice-president with ADL, it is conceivable that we may one day see hybrid double-deckers operating between Victoria and Vancouver. Wide-spread use of double deck buses in Vancouver, however, is not likely because the city still has plenty of overhead trolley power lines that would restrict the areas that the 14 ft tall double-deckers can serve.
On the other hand, the double-deckers are right for Victoria as city streets are narrower which would prove to be challenging for the 60 ft long articulated bus that many large North American cities employ. However, the more compact 40 ft long double decker has essentially the same passenger capacity (80-100) as the much longer articulated bus but are much easier to maneuver around streets that have tighter corner turns. Double deck buses also require 30% less space than articulated buses for storage and maintenance. Not to mention lesser space at each bus stops. ADL, a British company, says its hybrid bus reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 20-25%.
Inside the demo hybrid double-decker at Trans-Expo 2010, there are several overhead LCD monitors located at different areas of the two decks that are used to provide advertising messages, next stop announcement etc. It looks like advertising onboard buses maybe a good revenue generator and the company seems eager to get that message out to potential buyers.
One feature that is becoming standard in a modern eco-friendly bus is LED lighting. Almost all hybrid buses incorporate the technology. It is easy to understand why. These light-emitting diodes not only save energy, but are also more durable and give out very little heat. All are in steps with moving towards a sustainable future.
So much for the new technologies, yet objects that have interesting heritage values are not forgotten either. The Transit Museum Society has an on-site exhibit with a few antique transit buses on display. These are the ones that your parents or grandparents used to ride. In fact, BC has been building interurban buses over 100 years ago. In 1905, the BC Electric Railway (BCE) shop in New Westminster built Car 1207 for the opening of the new Steveston line by way of the Arbutus Corridor connecting Vancouver and Richmond. Many long-time residents among those communities still remember the streetcar line and some have longed for its return.
Seon Video surveillance camera with infrared emitter on top
John Duthie, Daytech, the company that makes transit shelters
The Honorable Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Province of BC (on wheelchair) with others at Trans-Expo 2010.
Interior of a Nova Bus.
Wayne Feagan of Nova Bus shows standing stall inside his company’s 60 ft long articulated bus.
Almost 100 exhibitors showcased their technologies.
Alexander Dennis Ltd. double decker bus stairwell.
Interior, upper deck of the Alexander Dennis Ltd. Double-decker on trial in Victoria BC.
Nova Bus illuminated reading light, small table and facing transit passenger seats.
Solar-powered ticket cending machine made by Parkeon.
Overhead LCD screen shows advertising message onboard a double-decker on trial in Victoria BC.
Same model of a double-decker bus on trial in Victoria, BC.
Innards of a hybrid diesel-electric engine.
Fare collection box of the double-decker bus.
Touch door frame to open door to exit on a new Nova Bus.
Diesel-electric hybrid technology, New Flyer innovation.
New Flyer bus driver seat.
A Toronto York Region Transit (YRT) vehicle.
Transit Museum Society display Its older streetcars.
Pictures of 1930s passengers filled the windows of an old BCE bus.
Moving exhibit inside one of the heritage BCE buses.
Vancouver Convention Centre 1055 Canada Place, Vancouver BC
View Larger Map