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Smart streets Sun Tran looks to satellites for guidance            
                    (Arizona Daily Star; 03/22/99)                    

   A new, satellite-based global positioning system is taking the pulse of Sun 
Tran buses, tracking the transit vehicles' every beat through Pima County's 
bustling arteries.

   All but 30 of the 200-plus Sun Tran buses are equipped with the Advanced 
Vehicle Location system, said John E. Taylor, Intelligent Transportation 
Systems manager for the Pima Association of Governments.

   Funding to equip the remaining 15 percent of the fleet was recently 

   Through an electronic sign at the transit center in downtown Tucson, 
commuters will soon be able to learn the precise arrival times of their buses.

   Display screens also will be installed at other transit centers throughout 
the city.

   The new system is just one of several high-tech approaches being used by 
government agencies and private companies building "Intelligent Transportation 
Systems" in Pima County and throughout the United States.

   In 1996, Tucson became one of 75 sprawling urban areas across the nation 
that received $400,000 each in federal funds to ease traffic woes through road 
sensors, cameras and other equipment.

   Last month, officials of the Tucson program also announced the linking of 
traffic centers for the Department of Public Safety, the Tucson Fire Department 
and other emergency response agencies, allowing the agencies to evaluate more 
quickly the seriousness of a given emergency.

   Using satellite-based technology, the bus-tracking system will automatically 
compare a bus's exact location and factor in its destination for waiting 

   The system allows Sun Tran transit officials to monitor on-time performance 
and, in turn, make schedule adjustments accordingly.

   "We'll be putting enunciators (electronic voice information devices) in the 
buses so people know, for instance, that their stop is coming up," Taylor said. 
"Also, the computer system will be able to monitor the number of people getting 
on and off the buses. That'll allow us to reroute buses where they're needed 

   Passenger information displays are also being installed at Tucson's three 
transit centers, according to Paul Casertano, an Intelligent Transportation 
Systems planner for the Pima Association of Governments.

   The screens will update every 40 seconds to provide riders with the latest 
information on arrival times and connecting bus routes.

   At downtown's Ronstadt Transit Center, wiring for additional information 
kiosks has also been installed.

   The interactive pavilion should be ready within the next two to three years, 
Casertano said.

   An electronic fare payment system is already in use on the entire Sun Tran 
fleet. Buses have also been outfitted with radio upgrades, alarms, security 
cameras and driver displays.

   Enunciators and automatic passenger counters have been hooked up on 40 buses 
and will be installed on all new Sun Tran vehicles.

   The electronic locator system also is being installed in the company's Van 
Tran fleet, Casertano said.

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