Fran Wilde: real time information “operates reliably… glitch resolved”

by Fran Wilde
I wish to refute a series of comments about Real Time Information made via Twitter by the editor of Wellington.scoop, over the last 24 hours.

Far from being a failure, Real Time Information (RTI) has been one of several major improvements to public transport in the Wellington region over the last few years. Instead of waiting and not knowing when their bus or train will turn up, people can check online before they leave home or the office and see when their bus or train will arrive. More than 250 display screens are also in place at the busiest stops and at most railway stations.

I acknowledge there was a significant glitch with the system earlier this year, due to unexpected failures of RTI equipment on buses. However, that was resolved by the system supplier at their cost as soon as the cause was identified. The system now operates reliably and to expected levels of performance.

Isolated issues do occur from time to time but we work closely with the service operators to ensure, for example, that services are operated as they should be and any changes are planned in advance so information is as accurate as it can be. We value anyone who experiences an issue with RTI giving us details of the service concerned and where and when they saw the information so we can look back, see what actually happened and work with operators to prevent this happening again.

The editor claims, wrongly, that Infratil could have supplied an RTI system for nothing through its operating companies (Go Wellington and Valley Flyer). Although many buses now have systems for ticketing or fleet management that could provide the geographical position of the bus, that is only one part of the information required to generate RTI, and is not available for all buses and trains that provide Metlink services. It also wasn’t widely available when we procured our RTI system in 2009.

An RTI system also requires specialist central applications, the installation and maintenance of display signs, and links to, for example, the Metlink website and databases which help us to manage the day-to-day operation of the network in its entirety, and to plan for its development. We also need to ensure that we can independently plan for upgrade and renewal of the system making best use of technology developments.

We are satisfied that the Metlink RTI system provides satisfactory service and represents good value for money, compared with alternatives that were available at the time it was procured.

If the editor takes his responsibility in the social media seriously and wants to make an informed contribution, we would be delighted to give him a full briefing.

Fran Wilde is chair of the Greater Wellington Regional Council

February: $9.7m system was 50% failure


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