Dept. of Transportation
Metro Transit Division

King Street Center
201 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98104
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On-Board Systems/Communications Center System Project

In June of 2007, King County Metro signed a contract with INIT Innovations in Transportation, Inc. to install "smart" bus technology (OBS) on the entire fleet of Metro fixed-route vehicles and replace the existing CAD/AVL system with a new Communications Center System (CCS) for use by Transit Coordinators. The OBS/CCS Project expects to build on the information gleaned from the Smart Bus Demonstration Project (Regional Smart Bus Demonstration Project Evaluation Report).

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What is OBS/CCS?

The OBS/CCS Project includes all of the technology, except the new radio system, for vehicle tracking, revenue service management and near real-time customer information. Both the OBS and CCS parts of the Project will be implemented in concert with the new 700MHz radios and this combined implementation will migrate the KCM's revenue fleet to the new, integrated systems.

The OBS will provide Metro's fixed-route vehicles with the next generation of on-board vehicle electronics and data systems. Using a new, integrated, multi-function computer and communications system, KCM's buses have will have on-board capabilities that monitor and report on the operational and maintenance status of the bus, as well as its current location and schedule. The OBS will also be installed with and provide an Operator interface to the new mobile radios provided by the Transit Radio System Project.

The CCS will provide Metro Coordinators with a replacement for the current Communications Center CAD/AVL system. The new system uses modern technology for fleet management and improves system safety. The new CCS will provide improved coordinator tools and vehicle location tracking information, reporting both on-route and off-route vehicle locations.

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Why are new systems needed?

Key equipment on Metro-operated buses needs to be replaced. This equipment includes mobile data terminals, two-way radio and automated vehicle location systems, and public address systems. In some cases, the equipment is reaching the end of its expected life cycle and compatible equipment is no longer available on the market. In other instances, the equipment doesn't meet current Federal standards.

These systems are expected to enable Metro and Sound Transit to improve vehicle safety, and mechanical and schedule reliability for the fixed-route service. Additionally, KCM anticipates providing enhanced service and service information to riders as has been the case in other U.S. cities.

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What do "smart" buses do & what does that mean for you?

What do "smart" buses do?

What does that mean for you?

  • Provide computerized vehicle performance data to predict maintenance needs and reduce the number of unexpected breakdowns
  • More dependable bus service
  • Longer vehicle life and reduced maintenance costs for efficient use of tax dollars
  • Speed bus trips along major transportation corridors using an enhanced traffic signal priority system that engages only when needed to maintain schedules
  • Faster bus trips
  • Improved on-time performance
  • Impact on other vehicles at traffic signals is minimized

Improve information provided to riders:

  • Automatically announce the next stop and display this information on a sign inside the bus
  • Automatically announce the bus route number and destination to waiting passengers at each bus stop
  • Accurate bus information
  • Consistent, reliable timing of announcements and displayed information
  • Better service for the hearing- and visually-impaired that meets Federal standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Automatically count passengers to provide timely, accurate rider and trip information for more effective transportation planning
  • Ensures that future transportation services are provided when and where they are needed most

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Demonstration Project Evaluation Report

The regional smart bus demonstration project was a joint King County Metro/Sound Transit effort to evaluate the next generation of bus information systems. The project was in operation from October 2001 through January 2002. A 40' Gillig was used on ST Express Route 570 and a new Flyer articulated bus, was in service on selected Metro routes 5, 7, 54, 55, 167 and a downtown circulator bus. The demonstration included regular weekday service and it did not work on weekends, holidays or non-demonstration routes.

In October 2001 through January 2002, King County Metro Transit and Sound Transit conducted the Regional Smart Bus Demonstration Project - Phase 1, a short term, limited demonstration of off-the-shelf smart bus technology on two transit coaches. This report evaluates the results of the demonstration project, with an emphasis on technical approach, transit business impacts, and lessons learned from the demonstration.

Data obtained from the Demonstration Project and subsequent Evaluation was used to develop requirements for the OBS/CCS contract that will lead to improved transit service and transit information for riders, and allow KCM to deliver the best possible transportation value for the taxpayers of our region.

You can read the report either as a .PDF file [465 kb, 79 pgs], or as HTML on the web.

If your web browser does not have a viewer defined for PDF formatted files, please download the appropriate reader [external link], courtesy of Adobe.

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Do you have a comment about the OBS/CCS Project?

If you have comments about this project, please contact King County Metro at 206-553-3000, TTY users call 206-684-2029, or send an email to

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Updated: Sept. 2002