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City Poised to Purchase $8 Million Radio System for Big Blue Bus

Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Jorge Casuso

May 19, 2021 -- The Big Blue Bus (BBB) is poised to replace its nearly 20-year-old two-way radio system that regularly breaks down with a new $8.1 million state-of-the-art system.

The City Council on Tuesday is expected to approve a $8,117,972 million contract with New York-based Clever Devices to purchase the Computer-Aided Dispatch / Automatic Vehicle Location (CAD/AVL) system using County funding.

Replacing the outdated system is a cornerstoone in a $24 million plan to update the transportation agency's technology over the next five years, according to BBB officials.

The need to transition to an updated radio system "was identified as a priority, given the potentially catastrophic risks of system failure," staff wrote in its report to the Council.

"BBB needs reliable, effective communication and fleet tracking software to support the return of customers to public transit," staff said.

The transit agency anticipates ridership will reach pre-COVID levels of 45,000 daily customers by approximately August 2022, staff said.

CAD/AVL systems are "the backbone of public transportation operations" and impact virtually all other systems.

These systems track BBB vehicles in real time and "facilitate all voice and data communications between BBB’s Dispatch/ Communications Center and motor coach operators."

The systems also generate real time information that informs customers when a bus is coming or helps them plan their trips, staff said.

In addition, the radio system will "coordinate other data-driven systems aboard the bus such as security cameras, collision avoidance systems, annunciation systems, and fare collection," staff wrote.

The proposed contract includes a maintenance agreement of $867,216 over five years.

Purchased in 2002, the current system has had "frequent radio system outages" and "is failing to effectively provide or process operational data needed by other BBB systems," staff said.

This includes the vehicle scheduling system for nearly 300 motor coach operators and the operator scheduling system that "manages the day-to-day operation of bus service."

As part of the Consent Calendar item, the Council is expected to also authorize $957,600 in County funding "for five years of cellular data charges to provide voice and data redundancy" to the new radio system, staff said.

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