On Thursday, 8 December 2016, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) launched a new information display panel for buses, providing commuters with on-route information in real-time.
The Passenger Information Display System (PIDS) is a new LCD panel installed on a Tower Transit MAN NL323F single-deck bus, deployed on Bus Service 106. The system is supplied by Trapeze, originally intended for a 2-month trial period, but was extended to April 2017, after which the PIDS was removed from the bus.
Previously, only existing SMRT Buses were fitted with a LED dot matrix panel at the front of the bus, which informs commuters where the next stop is, and that the bus will be stopping when passengers press the bell. The feature is standard across all buses built to SMRT specifications, and continued to remain in use after Tower Transit buses took over SMRT-spec buses. SBS Transit buses, on the other hand, were never installed with information displays.
SMB3053M is currently the sole bus installed with the PIDS, deployed on Bus Service 106. The new LCD screen, installed near the exit door, displays information like the bus service number, current and upcoming bus stops and the end destination. A later software update included estimated travel time to upcoming bus stops and the route terminus.
On the right side, the PIDS cycles through a series of LTA infomercials promoting the Bus Contracting Model and its Knackstop public transport souvenirs, as well as a request for feedback on the new system.
In April 2017, the system was upgraded to feature connecting bus/train information and audio announcements. After gathering of public feedback, the trial was ended and the PIDS was removed from the bus in mid-April 2017.
Background of the PIDS
The PIDS is a Trapeze Multifunctional Display MFD. Available in multiple sizes, the 29.4″ Ultra-Wide display is installed on SMB3053M .
The system taps on information from the Common Fleet Management System (CFMS) developed by ST Electronics and Trapeze Group Switzerland. Being progressively installed on all buses at time of writing, the CFMS was successfully integrated with the LED dot matrix panel installed on buses built to SMRT specifications, replacing the existing NOBE Fare Collection System as the primary bus stop and location data source.
With the PIDS trial, LTA is working towards optimizing the display system, and to provide more real-time travel information through an additional LCD display panel on board buses. The PIDS was also a widely requested feature at LTA’s Our Bus Journey series of carnivals, where a sample PIDS was showcased onboard the MAN Lion’s City DD L Mock-up Bus.
Bus Service 106 was chosen for the trial for its diverse catchment areas. It serves housing estates and schools in the Bukit Batok and Commonwealth areas, while also plying along the commercial and financial districts in the Orchard and Shenton Way areas.
The PIDS in action
The PIDS onboard SMB3053M scrolls through Service 106’s route details smoothly, correctly showing the next and subsequent bus stops as well as the route terminus, and the estimated time of arrival to all these stops using data provided by the CFMS. The right screen scrolls through LTA infomercials.
At launch, the system only featured bus stop names. In an April 2017 update, the system features connecting bus/train information and audio announcements which correctly pronounced bus stop names. The audio announcement upgrade was previously announced by Mr Ng Chee Meng at the Committee of Supply Debate 2017.
When approaching a terminus, the route details space out to maximize screen space. At the terminating stop, a special message displays, reminding passengers of their belongings.
When not deployed on Service 106, the left screen reverts to a static screen displaying the trial information. It is likely that only Service 106 was programmed into the system. These pictures were taken when SMB3053M was deployed on a bus service other than 106, where the right panel continued to scroll through LTA infomercials and the trial information screen.
Room for expansion
LTA will also test the display of information such as real-time messages on MRT service delays, traffic congestions that may affect the service route or other public service messages at a later date.. Such real-time information allows commuters to make more informed decisions on the go, and a better travelling experience for their public transport commute.
The current PIDS is one of a series of Passenger Information Displays which LTA has been refining. On 20 August 2015, LTA tested a new display in a private trial with elderly commuters. The display, installed on a SBS Transit Mercedes-Benz Citaro (SBS6103Z), showed the next three stops, along with audio announcements. The bus, permanently assigned to training duties, was never deployed on revenue service since.
A video featuring audio announcements of the Passenger Information Display System (PIDS).
External Links & References:
- Factsheet: Passenger Information Display System (PIDS) Trial To Offer Real-time Travel Information To Commuters On Buses – LTA
- Bus commuters to get real-time journey information in two-month trial – Straits Times
- LTA trials new information display system for buses – Channel NewsAsia
- Ways to help seniors enjoy a smoother ride – Straits Times
- Multifunctional Display MFD – Trapeze GmbH (PDF)