Thursday, April 12, 2012

Metrolink implementing $1.6 million communication system upgrade

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This month, Southern California's Metrolink will complete the first phase of implementation of a $1.6 million upgrade to its communication system that will provide passengers with more timely train schedule information and status updates at Metrolink train stations. The new system is now installed and operational on Metrolink's San Bernardino, Orange County, Inland Empire-Orange County and 91 lines.

"We are making this investment in customer service, so our passengers have more ways to get information when and where they need it most," said Metrolink Board Chairman Richard Katz. "This upgrade is a response to our customers' request for more and timelier communication at the stations and during any service interruptions."

Prior to the upgrade, information at the station was limited to current date, time and basic delay information. The first phase of the implementation consists of new automated messages that inform passengers when the next three trains are scheduled to arrive/depart as well, as more timely information, including special announcements, track changes and delay notifications. By mid-year, the new system will allow passengers to sign up for text messages and e-mail notifications with train status updates. The system will also be integrated with current social media sites, displaying the same information on the agency's Facebook and Twitter pages.

The second and third phases will implement the text-to-speech feature allowing Metrolink's Operations Center staff to send audible messages to stations. The second and third phases are anticipated to occur in conjunction with the implementation of Positive Train Control, scheduled for 2013. The third phase will link the communication system upgrade to the PTC on-board Global Positioning System to provide the most accurate and continuously updated train arrival and departure times at the stations.

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