Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive
Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive is funded by Manchester’s district councils and ensures public transport needs are met. Since deregulation of bus services in 1986, private bus companies have needed incentives to steer them away from profitable routes and on to essential but less lucrative ones. Part of GMPTE’s purpose is to subsidise the bus companies so that they will continue to serve every community within Greater Manchester, as well as to compensate the bus companies for losses through concessionary fares.
So what is the best way to gauge the public transport needs of 2.5 million people? In simple terms, it is a case of surveying passengers while they are on a bus, in order to find out their boarding point, destination, ticket type and such like. The amount of data involved and the ever-changing transport environment rule out anything but the fastest and most customisable equipment. GMPTE employed IKI Portable Solutions to provide just that solution, with IKI selecting TouchStar’s TouchPC to do the job perfectly.Each of the 45 data collectors was assigned a TouchPC Eagle, a master cradle and a modem, the latter two of which could be left at home.
Before a shift starts, data is downloaded to the Eagle so that the inspectors can plan their route for that day. They then set out and spend the shift getting on and off buses, surveying passengers and capturing the data simply and quickly by tapping the touchscreen.Because of the Eagle’s generous screen size, this can be done without slippage while cornering, accelerating and braking along the bumpiest of roads.
At the end of the shift, the operator cradles the TouchPC, which both charges the battery and sends the collected data to GMPTE for processing.Apart from its large touch sensitive screen, the Eagle was chosen because it was robust, had excellent battery life and ran on a powerful, reliable platform. GMPTE’s Data Collection Manager, was delighted with the system: “The hardware provided has a long battery life out in the field; it stands up to the rigours of the job and the software is intuitive and easy to follow. We’ve been able to make savings through reduced administration and labour costs and faster receipt of data.”As anyone in statistics will assert, the accuracy of a survey improves with increased sample size; thanks to the choice of the TouchPC Eagle for this particular operation, a single passenger’s data can be gathered in about five seconds, allowing enormous samples to be taken day in, day out.”We are now looking to build in additional applications such as Quality Bus Corridor Surveys and General Networking Monitoring Activity,” GMPTE’s Data Collection Manager continued.
“These new applications will be fully integrated into the system, giving data collectors access to all survey types.”The TouchPC has proved reliable, hard-working and cost-effective. Just like Greater Manchester’s transport network, in fact.