Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) or Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL)
Essex County Council, Southend Borough Council and Thurrock Council have been partners in the RTPI system since its introduction back in 1999. It was initially introduced as a bus priority system.
In 2008 a review was undertaken of the system, which was at capacity (showing live departures for approximately 100 services from only 5 operators on 280 on-street displays) and had reached the end of its life in respect of the communications network. The review showed that technology had moved on and investing in a new system would reduce ongoing costs in the long run whilst increasing capacity to show more services from more operators.
The 280 existing signs across greater Essex have been upgraded from the PMR radio network to work with GPS communication. The upgraded displays were turned back on in July 2013, from which time the signs have been showing scheduled information or timetable time for approximately 630 services from 64 operators.
In February 2014 live departures for the first bus operator, Ensign Bus, were introduced to displays in Thurrock. Since then the number of Ensign Bus routes showing live departures has gradually been increased.
Bus operators have been offered a grant for each Electronic Ticket Machine (ETM) that they purchase that has the ability to accept ITSO Smartcards and provide live ETM data, and will work with the local authority to provide their service registration data in electronic format in the future.
We are in the testing phase with 4 further operators, with an anticipated timescale for the introduction of live information of up to 3 months for them. Future developments for live information will include introducing the live departure information onto websites and into apps.