Advancing Technology to Better Serve Riders and Community
By Dan Goodemoot, Director of Information Technology Services
A half-century after its founding, CATA is leading the way with technological advances that improve customer experience and safety, while enhancing accessibility, reliability and efficiency. From CATA’s initial trials with electric vehicles in 1973, to the modern hybrid buses that dominate the fleet today, CATA embraces innovation as a guiding principle.
Adopting new technologies that improve the transit experience for CATA riders is always a top priority.
MyRideCATA app - Launched February 2022
Earlier this year, Spec-Tran customers were provided another technology tool with the introduction of a new mobile app called MyRideCATA. The free app allows customers to schedule, track and manage rides on their mobile devices. Spec-Tran riders still have the option to call for a ride reservation or book online.
Cybersecurity - Fall 2022
In a world where advancing technology can enable hackers to infiltrate sensitive computer systems, CATA is taking major steps to enhance cybersecurity across all technology platforms. In 2022, CATA hosted a conference – the first in Michigan – that engaged the Federal Transit Administration to conduct cybersecurity training for transportation agencies across the state. Staff is also working with a security consultant to update security-response plans in different emergency situations.
Advancements in CATA’s internal financial system have increased efficiencies across the complex accounting processes to benefit employees, vendors and partners. Staff is also working diligently to enhance the security of information technology systems by establishing redundancy in CATA’s computer networks to ensure that system failures don’t hamper operations.
Automatic vehicle location - Fall 2022
This fall, customers will see upgrades to the Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) systems on CATA buses. AVL provides CATA operators real-time information about their routes, so they can improve on-time performance.
Contactless payment options - Summer 2023
The Authority is in the process of upgrading fareboxes across the CATA fleet, which will allow riders to make contactless payment. Instead of physically touching the farebox, riders will be able to tap their credit card or use a smartphone app to pay their fare. This upgrade, to be completed in the next year, will further enhance passenger and operator safety and increase CATA’s operational efficiency by speeding up the boarding process.
Cameras on buses - Summer 2023
Expanding the installation of cameras on a greater number of CATA buses is yet another effort that will enhance safety for riders and bus operators. Cameras were first installed in 2018 in paratransit vehicles, operated by subcontractor Transdev. Extending this technology to fixed-route service will improve reliability and deter unwelcome activity aboard large buses. High-definition cameras will be installed on several bus routes over the next few months and across CATA’S fixed-route service area. Cameras will continue to be used only to ensure a safe transit experience while riding with CATA.
Michigan Public Safety Communication System
Improving community safety is CATA’s goal in partnering with the Michigan Public Safety Communication System – the second-largest trunked radio network in the world. First responders across the state use this system to communicate during emergency situations, and CATA is now a member of the network. When there was a major accident on I-96, for example, this system allowed law enforcement to communicate directly with one of our bus operators to request a warming bus, which quickly arrived on the scene to provide safe-haven for those involved in the incident. This advancement in communications technology enhances public safety because the radio system is monitored 24/7, allowing CATA to step in and help keep our communities safe at any time. This year, we will continue to invest in radio upgrades, so CATA is ready to respond whenever called upon to assist.
Together, these innovations will enhance the experience of CATA riders by improving both security and efficiencies.
This content has been published in the 2022 Community Report.
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