ADART to Debut in Corpus Christi, TX
(press release, July, 2003)
Autonomous Dial-A-Ride Transit (ADART) will start service in Corpus Christi, Texas, by the end of this year. Dr. Robert Dial, a pioneer in the transportation industry, developed the ADART concept as a way to challenge Americas reliance on the automobile as their primary mode of travel. This new generation of demand response service effectively utilizes currently available technologies to increase ridership, reduce costs and improve service reliability. This unique concept is the first automated distributed dispatching service in the United States and provides door-to-door service in smaller-sized vehicles. ADART is considered to be a paradigm shift for the transit industry and promises to have a ripple effect on other centralized and dispatch-driven services. ADART was developed with funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
Corpus Christi, a beautiful south-Texas city of about 300,000 residents, was selected as the test site for this innovative project for a number of reasons:
- Corpus Christi has an established public transportation system, which is successfully serving the communitys transportation needs
- It has a region-wide state-of-the-art radio system that will serve as the communications backbone for ADART
- The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), a local transportation provider, is on the cutting edge of transit technology
- The RTA has a good working relationship with other local entities like the City, County, police department, emergency services and other transportation providers. This would serve well for any interagency working agreement.
How ADART Works ADART is a subscription-type service that requires all customers to be registered before requesting a trip. Once registered, a customer can book a recurring or occasional trip, and can do so up to two hours before the requested pickup time. The trip request can be made via the internet or with the help of a touch-tone telephone. This request is electronically received, logged and routed wirelessly to an ADART vehicle. Computers onboard the vehicles decide on an appropriate pickup and drop-off time, consistent with time windows indicated at the time of booking the trip. The acceptance of the trip request and scheduling of the trip is completely automated with no human intervention. The ADART concept is unique in that the only human involvement in this whole endeavor is the user requesting the trip. ADART minimizes the need for a manually operated command center, saving time and money.
All ADART trips are guaranteed. If, for whatever reason ADART is unable to fulfill the trip, then the computer automatically dispatches a taxicab to satisfy the trip. To ensure a more reliable service, ADART computers contact customers five minutes before their scheduled trip, informing them that the vehicle is arriving.
Were excited about being the first City in the United States to provide this type of service, said Linda Watson, General Manager at the RTA. She said that ADART would provide complementary service to the RTAs existing fixed route and paratransit services. The selection of appropriate service applications was a very challenging endeavor, given the multitude of markets that ADART can serve, said Mike Rendon, Board Chairman at the RTA. After much discussion, the list of possible applications was narrowed to the following: paratransit services, welfare-to-work trips, service to university students, feeder service at the end of bus routes, late evening/weekend service, and service to high-employment areas. Watson is inviting a number of seasoned transit professionals to Corpus Christi. We want our national transit experts to experience ADART firsthand and provide invaluable feedback, given that this concept is on the cutting edge of demand response systems, said Watson.
ADART has a number of unique features that differentiates if from regular paratransit-type services:
§ Same-Day Service ADART guarantees same-day service to its customers up to two hours in advance of the scheduled trip. This is an improvement over current paratransit services, which offer its customers a minimum of next-day service.
§ Dynamic Demand ADART is adaptable and flexible to demand. The size of the vehicle fleet can be increased or decreased based on market needs. Service can be initiated with only a few vehicles. Each vehicle is self-sufficient and comes equipped with the necessary hardware and software to communicate with the rest of the ADART fleet. For system expansion, it takes approximately two hours for any vehicle to be converted to an ADART vehicle.
§ Security - Security is enhanced because all customers are pre-registered, and ADART knows the location of every vehicle in its fleet. Also, emergency messages can be sent to and from the vehicles with a touch of a button.
§ Reliability/Dependability the computer calls Customers five minutes in advance to notify them that a vehicle is arriving. Customers are guaranteed a trip. The computer dispatches a taxicab if no ADART vehicles are available to satisfy a trip request.
§ Efficiency ADARTs on-vehicle routing software provides the driver an online map with directives on routes and passenger trip information, and estimated time of arrival at the next stop. Drivers who are unfamiliar with new service areas can utilize these online maps and directions, saving them time in locating specific addresses.
§ Cashless System All ADART trips are prepaid. Credit cards, debit cards and cash can be used to credit a customers travel account.
§ Technology Use ADART effectively uses a number of currently available technologies: Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL), automated routing and scheduling, geo-spatial technologies, wireless communications, vehicle navigation, and e-card technologies.
After the launching of ADART in Corpus Christi later this year (2003), efforts will be made to identify other possible ADART sites across the country. ADART is adaptable enough to communicate either on a radio-based or a phone-based wireless system. Its transferability to other communities can be accomplished with minimal effort, given that ADART will have to conform to new service and fare policies in communities where they are adopted.
The ADART project is managed and developed with assistance from Technology Solution Providers (TSP), a transportation and technology integration company. TSP project manager, David Faria, says, ADART will provide a number of valuable lessons to the transit industry in the areas of system integration, wireless communications and distributed transit systems.
All eyes are on Corpus Christi. Stay tuned, the ADART era has arrived. For more information, contact Linda Watson, RTA General Manager, at LWatson@ccrta.org, or 361-289-2712.
Last modified: April 21, 2004