Real Time Info Contract Signed


Real time information for Auckland rail and ferries is on its way.

Sigtec, considered a leading international developer of intelligent transport systems for the public transport, has signed a contract to upgrade the present system.

The upgrade will be in time for Rugby World Cup 2011.

Sigtec provides the technology for real time information and traffic light priority for Auckland’s buses. So far it’s at over 5,000 stops on the Auckland public transport system, via the MAXX website and through SMS.

Now the upgraded system will display predicted service arrival times to commuters at signs located at rail platforms and at ferry terminals.

The system monitors the position of each bus, train and ferry in real time using GPS and other inputs to predict when the service will arrive. Priority is automatically requested at traffic lights for late running buses.

The upgrade promises to include enhancements and new formatting of information on electronic signs.

When the present signs work, they work well. When buses are due to arrive and then go into “delay” signage mode and then vanish from the screen as if a ghost bus, they drive me mad.

That happened with the last bus from the city on Monday night and I had to wander around to find a cab (and have another dodgy cab experience).

I will never know if that bus ever arrived or the other people waiting at the bus stop continue to wait in hope into the early hours of the morning.

Despite the official explanations as to how this happens, I still can not get my head around it how buses are supposedly minutes away and then disappear without trace.

That aside, RTI for trains and ferries is something we urgently need and it’s good news this is happening.

Related Posts

  1. Wgtn Transport Gets Real-Time Info
  2. Bring On Real Time Info
  3. 15 Minute Buses & Online RT Info
  4. More Info For Motorists
  5. The Real Test




  1. Andrew Stevenson says:

    I caught a east-bound train from Grafton to Newmarket recently. I was then going to connect with one to Onehunga.

    But… the western-line train just “disappeared” like your late night bus. No explanation. (And they have PA systems, right?)

    I almost felt like pressing the emergency button just to see what would happen…

    What would be even better for people who “connect” their PT, is signs that show different options.

    For example, at Ellerslie rail station, it would be great if it had a copy of the RTT in Ellerslie (for buses) as well as the RTT on the Great South Road. Then users could decide whether to a) run or b) go to the pub.

    Finally, I asked Auckland City a while back (before assets transferred to ARTA?) if I could sponsor a RTT box. They said “oh, we aren’t set up for that”. Stink. I lost, Auckland City lost, the ratepayers lost and other PT user lost. Lose-lose all around.

  2. Matt L says:

    Andrew - the PIDs at Grafton and Newmarket currently only show the timetabled time and there is no real time element to them and won’t be till this work is done unfortunately.

  3. Andrew Stevenson says:

    Matt L: Thanks. I figured. Didn’t make me feel any better, though. I was taking my mum around Auckland’s rail network and was hoping to convince her to use it from time to time.

    Caught the train from Onehunga to Britomart. Oh, wait, no I didn’t. It was cancelled. We were told via the PA system. But… wouldn’t a couple of $15 taxi van from Onehunga to Penrose (paid for by Kiwirail) improve the experience of the two dozen waiting for the train?

    Off topic I know… but GRRRRRR!

  4. Jon C says:

    @Andrew Sad story and frustrating … and sorry your Mum had a bad experience. But that used to be the story ever second day on the rail network. When i struck a 10 minute delay yesterday for a service I needed to catch on time, and got frustrated I realised how far we have actually come. Only a 10 minute delay used to be your lucky day!! LOL

  5. Nick R says:

    “Priority is automatically requested at traffic lights for late running buses.”

    So they’ll have the technology to change the lights for late buses, so why not use it for all buses?

    Imagine the speed an reliability improvements if peak hour buses always had a green light?

  6. Jon Reeves says:

    Is there a list of which railway stations will receive the signs?

  7. Scott says:

    Nick R, Near the CBD i.e. the central connector there are often too many buses to give them strong priority. The other traffic directions would never have a chance.

  8. anti-bigot says:

    My regular stop (154 symonds street) lacks any real time information despite being busy and the fact that all the other stops on symonds street have real time monitors (including two on the bus stop across the road).
    Does anyone know who I can contact to get this looked into?

  9. Jon C says:

    @anti-bigot Not all stops have but hopefully more will be rolled out under this contract.

  10. Nick R says:

    they probably wouldn’t prioritise real time info at your stop because it is an ‘outbound’ stop. I.e. it would be used more by people getting off buses from town than people waiting there to get a bus down Mt Eden Rd or where-ever.
    Although having said that there are plenty of jobs nearby that commuters would use the stop.

  11. Stranded on the North Shore says:

    @JonC - I think I have figured out their system - and now I think I understand why buses just disappear off the “Real Time Display” without actually going past the bus stop. I heard similar stories and explanations from the call centre like yourself… But here is my theory… If a bus is not registered on the “Real Time” system for whatever reason, then what the displays show for that particular bus is “Scheduled Time”, I have noticed that few times - when in reality my bus was late, but the display was counting down time EXACTLY as it shows on the timetable. That was while watching other buses arrive more or less exactly how the display was predicting. Once the time has gone down to DUE, and then my bus disappeared off the display completely. Low and behold 4 minutes later the bus arrives!!!… So what we really need is to have an indication on the display when a bus is really “REAL TIME ESTIMATION BASED ON GPS LOCATION” or when the time shown is actually “SCHEDULED/TIMETABLE”. That would make our choices better and system a whole lot more reliable. But they might be hiding something from us…. Anyway I noticed that many Birkenhead buses behave like that - very easy to notice that phenomenon on stop like “Victoria Park outside AirNZ house” - the first stop after Harbour Bridge.

  12. karl says:

    I think the problem with the system is that if the bus drops out of GPS transponder range, the “real time” system simply extrapolates where it SHOULD be, if it was continuing on its route.

    That may be a valid assumption 90% of the time. 10% of the time, the bus dropped out because it is stuck in traffic, or the transponder failed, or the bus driver drove home early (I mean, otherwise we wouldn’t get so many “lost” buses, would we?)

    The honest thing would be to stop counting down once the bus is lost, or clearly indicating on the display that there’s no real time info to be had for bus X at that point, and that the estimate is just that.

  13. karl says:

    “Stranded on the North Shore” - we came to exactly the same conclusion!

    The displays will need to be a bit more succinct though. Maybe flashing an “Estm” after the timetable ones would work.

  14. Jon C says:

    Thanks for your insights, well done! I finally found my old notes when I complained about it once before. Yes the system only works if the bus driver logs on to the GPS system when they start their trip. If they forget or don’t , then 10 minutes after the scheduled start of the service, the sign becomes DLY which is why they do sometimes appear!

  15. JCNZ says:

    Does anyone know whether we will see “next stop” information and announcements on any of our buses in the near future? Having been to Asia, “next stop” info is the norm…it sure makes travelling around a heck of a lot easier, especially for people who aren’t familiar with the area they are travelling would sure make public transport use less scary for many and more friendly!

  16. Jon C says:

    @JCNZ We have it on Link buses and I wish it was on more - including in the trains. I havent heard of anything imminent and guess RTI is at least a big leap in that direction.

  17. Simon says:

    Umm Jon, Next stop info IS on the trains.

  18. Jon C says:

    @Simon Yes - although the Onehunga bound service I was on today said the next stop was still Penrose after we passed Te Papapa! But we are talking about announcements on board as happens in many trains overseas.

  19. Simon says:

    Ok I got you Jon. Having said that I could hardly hear the announcements on the local trains in Japan anyway due to the noise of the train and poor quality of the audio system in the carriages.

  20. Jon C says:

    I mentioned we get it on our Link buses but it does need to be on the trains especially for passengers who cant easily see out and are not used to the trip. Just part of becoming more like Japan. Ohh.. well maybe we’ll never be not as fast as Japan LOL

  21. Andrew says:

    The train onboard RTPIDs are a failure. The old software did end up working but was basic and did not understand different stopping patterns - it treated all train services as all-stops, it has no audio integration with the PA system at all, and can’t display things like “change here for services to…” or “alight here for Eden Park”, or display customized messages from the crew.

    The recently “upgraded” system running on some of the SAs this year is incompatible with its own displays - witness the shocking flickering on them.

    I hope the onboard PIDs are replaced as part of this Sigtec contract, as the existing systems seem to have been put together by people are rather inexperienced in the field.

  22. Deev says:

    Can anyone tell me what stations will be lucky enough to receive RTI boards and when this will happen?


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>