Synthesis of Information Related to Transit Problems. Topic SC-08. Use of Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs) in Transit

The number of transit agencies using mobile data terminals (MDTs) on buses and paratransit vehicles has increased in recent years. The MDT is the underlying data processing and transporting facility. Applications such as AVL, sensors, data communications, and security use the MDTs to communicate. MDTs communicate pertinent information between vehicles in the same region and with dispatchers or central information systems. In paratransit, this greatly facilitates the communication of driving directions, schedule changes, and other information. Fixed route systems are using MDTs to communicate detour information, available overtime work, urgent messages, etc. The purpose of this synthesis is to survey selected transit agencies throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe who use MDTs, document their successes and failures, and summarize other information about the following: (1) Types and brand of equipment used; (2) What applications/built-in functionalities are supported by MDTs; (3) How these applications are integrated; (4) Types of information communicated to MDTs versus other means; (5) Costs to install and maintain MDTs; (6) Staffing requirements to maintain the equipment and utilize the data; (7) Staffing acceptance ; (8) Operational/technical problems encountered and solutions; (9) MDT uses desired beyond the capabilities of the existing equipment; (10) Future applications and technologies; (11) Information technology and communications infrastructure supporting the MDT; (12) Types of communication (e.g., WiFi, cellular, multi-hop, RF, etc.); (13) Security and resilience of communications (after disruption). The synthesis will cover the use of MDTs in both urban and rural/small urban areas, will include both fixed-route and paratransit applications, and will identify reasons for success and failures of their use, as well as lessons learned. A review of the relevant literature in the field will be combined with surveys of selected transit agencies in the United States, Canada, and Europe and suppliers in order to report on the current state of the practice. Based on survey results, several case studies will be developed to profile innovative and successful practices, as well as lessons learned and gaps in information.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $30000.00
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project J-7, TopicSC

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Transit Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    Transit Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Project Managers:

    Vlasak, Donna

  • Performing Organizations:

    Harman Consulting

  • Principal Investigators:

    Harman, Lawrence

  • Start Date: 20051001
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20061231
  • Source Data: RiP Project 11627

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01462976
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transit Cooperative Research Program
  • Contract Numbers: Project J-7, TopicSC
  • Files: RiP, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 2:14PM