MBCR Launches Conductor Companion
The Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company (MBCR) recently announced the launch of the Conductor Companion pilot program. MBCR developed the concept for this mobile device application that will allow conductors on the MBTA commuter rail system to receive real-time information about service.
“The speed of technology today demands an application that gives conductors the information they need and that customers want,” said Gillian Wood, MBCR’s chief customer service officer. “For the first time on any commuter rail system in the United States, conductors will have the same, if not better, access to information about service, data that customers already obtain from their portable devices.”
MBCR, which fully funded the Conductor Companion program, will provide 24 conductors (12 working on service traveling to and from north station and 12 working trains traveling to and from south station) with modified iPhones programmed with MBCR’s “Conductor Companion” application.
The pilot program will run for 90 days and allow both conductors and riders to provide feedback to MBCR about their experience with the specialized devices and application. MBCR intends to unveil Conductor Companion for more than 200 other conductors later in the year.
“The Conductor Companion program leverages the power of mobile technology and will improve the quality of information that our customers receive," said MBCR General Manager Hugh Kiley. “MBCR crews will now be able to better communicate delays, service interruptions and other information directly to customers as events unfold.”
The Conductor Companion was designed to comply with Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regulations and MBTA policies that prohibit the use of mobile telecommunication during work shifts by personnel who work in safety sensitive positions while ensuring the ability of conductors to access important information about the service.
All Conductor Companion devices are designed without traditional cellular, text message, and email functions. Emergency communication is the only available outbound communication function on each device.
New Low-Floor Trolleys Now Operating on the MTS Orange Line
Officials recently launched new low-floor trolley service on the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System Orange Line, commemorating the completion of a $17 million renovation of orange line stations. The ceremony was held at the Euclid Avenue transit center in San Diego.
“This is important because we are bringing a new and higher standard of service to the people along the orange line,” MTS Chairman Harry Mathis said. “New station amenities and low-floor cars will enhance the transit experience, making trips faster, more timely and more convenient and comfortable.”
The work is part of the $720 million trolley renewal project that is rebuilding all stations form Old Town to San Ysidro and from La Mesa to downtown San Diego. It also includes $271 million to purchase 65 new low-floor vehicles from Siemens, which is located in Sacramento.
Also attending the launch of new service was San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, Santee Councilmember and SANDAG Chairman Jack Dale and former San Diego City Councilmember Tony Young.
The first segment of the orange line to Euclid Avenue was built in 1986. Subsequent extensions to La Mesa and El Cajon were opened in 1989. The last leg to Santee was completed in 1995.
“This is a proud day for all of us,” said Mathis. “It represents a significant reinvestment in our existing transportation system that will help keep San Diego’s trolley network in excellent shape well into the future.”
The orange line project included renovating nine stations, as well as train signaling and grade crossing improvements. Station platforms have been resurfaced, new shelters installed and fiber optic communication systems added, including next arrival electronic signs and surveillance cameras.