Moving Forward: A Public Transportation Conversation

Moving Forward



“Ladies and gentlemen, the train door will not close. I repeat, the train door will not close. Apologies but this train is now out of service. Please disembark and wait on Platform 1 for the next train.”A collective groan from the passengers and then from the train as hundreds of commuters push wearily through the exit.

The number of times the average commuter hears this or one of its variations is directly tied to millions of hours of lost productivity and tons of car pollution that local municipalities have to contend with. Efficient, smart public transportation is tied to increased quality of life. Not to mention a general optimism that local governments are holding up their end of the public services bargain.

Just ask Abhinav Ramrakhiyani, a Bay Area resident who takes public transit every day. “It would be an understatement that the quality of my commute has an outsized effect on my job, happiness and health.”

It would be an understatement that the quality of my commute has an outsized effect on my job, happiness and health.

a Bay Area resident

The variability and uncertainty of Ramrakhiyani’s commute isn’t surprising. The leading causes for public transit delays and breakdowns are equally unsurprising — system age and vandalism.

  • Vandalism accounts for 40% ii.
  • Minor accidents and derailments account for 2% of direct delaysiii
  • Another 35% is the system-wide effect of aggregate delays iv.

Trains parked in unsecured yards overnight are often physically damaged, to the point that fewer trains are available to travel the same routes or entire routes are temporarily out of commission. Additionally, repeated vandalism and repair can age existing infrastructure rapidly by reducing component integrity, such as struts on train doors that then don’t close, contributing significantly to long, sometimes unsafe commutes. v

Steam Age Technology, Meet the loT

Transportation departments are turning to better security in train-yards to alleviate these issues in lieu of replacing entire trains, at exorbitant costs, every few years, or being held liable when would-be-vandals get hurt tampering. vi. While traditionally, manned patrols and fixed surveillance cameras have been used to discourage would-be vandals with mixed success, a self-powered, analytics-driven technology promising rapidly deployable surveillance where it’s needed can now combat these issues quickly; a busy public transit corridor is leading the charge in adopting this technology.

California Transit Use Case

Challenge Solution Results
A West Coast transit system was contending with vandalism, petty crime and intermittent violence at a terminal train yard. In general, not only does this risk the well-being of employees and commuters, but trains are regularly out of commission and service disruptions sky-rocket year-on-year, with over 20% more trains arriving late in 2018 alone. The transit authority recently invested in V5 Systems Portable Security Units (V5 PSUs), turnkey and portable surveillance that can be deployed to outdoor locations without easy access to fixed power or communications. These self-powered, units, at under 25 pounds each, could be rapidly re-deployed in under 30 minutes to different hotspots, giving the transit system virtual eyes and ears that could alert transit police in seconds via mobile and web browser notifications. Since the units were deployed, there has been no major graffiti or vandalism incident; the new tech-driven security is deterring property destruction. The transit system can re-invest money that might have gone to manned patrols, cleanup and refurbishment, and trenching/permitting costs to acquire newer trains in a bid to make commuters’ experience safer and more seamless.

Transportation: A Paradigm About to Shift

This new security isn’t limited to just train yards. The same technology is being adapted for the nearly two million long-distance truckers and bus drivers in the country, and the company behind it, V5 Systems, is intent on revolutionizing public transit systems across the country whether they be rail-, road-, or water- based. This push even extends to fundamental freight transportation, such as Oil & Gas/chemicals pipelines, shipping and mining. vii


The economic case for local municipalities to invest in better, smarter security is compelling. More specifically, self-powered security systems that are portable make quick and cost-effective implementation a reality.

Municipalities can avoid hefty cleanup costs and reduce system delays significantly. In turn, commuters are more inclined to use the service, funding it and spending less time traveling.

There are some benefits that are harder to quantify, but perhaps more important in the long-run. viii.

“When my train is on schedule, I’m less anxious and happier,” Ramrakhiyani said. “I spend nearly four hours commuting daily, so a smooth ride means that 1/3 of my day was that much better.”

And for the oft-vilified train conductor? Imagine this.

“Ladies and gentlemen…our train is in-service and on-time. Have a wonderful day and thank you for riding!” A murmured sigh of gratitude from the masses.”

When my train is on schedule, I’m less anxious and happier. I spend nearly four hours commuting daily, so a smooth ride means that 1/3 of my day was that much better.

a Bay Area resident

i. https://www.arema.org/files/library/2010_Conference_Proceedings/Determining_The_Cause_of_Train_Delay.pdf
ii. https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/looking-after-the-railway/delays-explained/
iii. https://www.hinckleytimes.n et/news/local-news/van dalism-delays-trains-14162701
iv. https://www.oig.dot.gov/sites/default/files/AMTRAK%20Delays%20Report%5E7-10-12.pdf
v. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2013/03/06/top-eight-reasons-people-give-up-on-public-transit/#5e55ac5afd84
vi. https://jou rnals.plos. org/ploson e/article?id=10.1371/journ al.pone .0007292
vii. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-11/train-derailed-damage-hurstbridge-railway-station/6929500
viii. https://www.apta.com/articles/reportsandpublications/Pages/Modernization.aspx



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