(For Florida agencies participating in testing TAD under FDOT project BDK85 TWO 977-12 Travel Assistance Device – Deployment to Transit Agencies)
1. Does participation in TAD testing require any funding from my transit agency?
Not for prototype testing under this research project. The only commitment required from the transit agency is time of your staff to help test TAD.
2. Since TAD is a software application for a cell phone, do we need to buy cell phones or cellular service to participate in TAD testing?
No. The CUTR research team will provide the phones and service for you to test TAD at your transit agency.
3. Why would my transit agency want to participate in TAD testing?
The research team expects the transit agency to benefit from the results of this project through testing a new technology that has the potential to decrease long-term paratransit costs by increasing the number of fixed route transit riders, improving the state of their bus stop inventory through feedback from travel trainers and the TAD website Bus Stop Editor tool, and demonstrating a commitment to accessibility and support of transit riders with special needs to their patrons. Plus, TAD is useful for any new transit rider and can help lower the learning curve for public transportation, thereby increasing ridership.
4. What data does our transit agency need to provide?
Participation in TAD testing requires that your transit agency put their bus stop, route, and schedule data into to Google Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) format and provide remote access data to CUTR research team. Real-time access to automatic vehicle locator data is optional.
5. What is Google Transit?
Google Transit is a free online transit trip planner created and maintained by Google. In order to participate in Google Transit, your transit agency must put your schedule, bus stop, and route data into the General Transit Feed Specification Format (GTFS).
6. What is the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS)?
The GTFS is a simple standard created by Google and the transit community which dictates how bus schedule, route, and stop data should be formatted. In order for an online system such as Google Transit, or TAD, to provide services to many different transit agencies, transit data for all participating systems must be maintained in a common format. TAD requires that the participating transit agencies provide their data in the GTFS format so the data can be imported into the TAD system. More information on GTFS
7. Does my agency have to participate in Google Transit to be involved with TAD testing?
No. However, the CUTR team does recommend that you participate in Google Transit since Google Transit will provide additional vetting and quality control of your data in the GTFS format. Plus, you’ll get a free online trip planner for your customers: Google Transit.
8. How much time is required by the travel trainer or other personnel to participate in TAD testing?
The travel trainer will be expected to use TAD as a regular part of daily trips to test quality of bus stop information, accuracy of TAD in that environment, etc. On average, we anticipate that testing TAD and reporting results back to the CUTR research team will take around 15-20 minutes per day, part of which will overlap with normal traveling duties of the travel trainer. If initial testing is successful, the travel trainer will be asked to help coordinate recruitment and TAD testing with transit riders with special needs to provide feedback to the research team. The travel trainer would then be required to successfully complete the USF Institutional Review Board free online training (approximately 1 to 2 hours) before any interaction between TAD and the general public. We expect TAD testing with transit riders to take an average of 1-2 hours per participant, and expect to test around 10 participants on each transit system.
9. My agency doesn’t have a travel trainer. What is travel training? Can we still participate?
Travel training (also known as travel instruction) is short-term, one-to-one, intensive instruction designed to teach people with disabilities and seniors to travel safely and independently on fixed-route public transportation in their community. Individuals with disabilities and seniors learn travel skills while following a specific route, typically to a school or a job site. Travel instruction professionals must be able to determine how different disabilities affect a person’s ability to travel, and they must develop appropriate methods to teach travel skills dependent upon individual needs. (Source: www.travelinstruction.org)
If your agency does not have a travel trainer, another person would be expected to complete the same tasks as required of the travel trainer in order to participate in TAD testing. More information on travel training from Easter Seals Project ACTION
10. We have a bus stop inventory, but don’t know how accurate it is. Can we still participate in TAD testing?
TAD uses a Global Positioning System (GPS)-chip embedded in the cell phone, along with the knowledge of the destination bus stop location, to provide the transit rider with real-time alerts. TAD is only as accurate as the bus stop inventory that is provided by the transit agency, since the proximity of the cell phone to the bus stop triggers the alerts to the rider. Generally, if the bus stops locations in the inventory are within 65 feet (i.e., 20 meters) of their true location TAD should perform adequately. However, the better the accuracy of the bus stop inventory, the better TAD will perform. If you aren’t sure whether your bus stop inventory is accurate enough, please contact the CUTR team at 813-974-7208 with your questions.
11. When will TAD be available to the general public as a service?
The first step towards making TAD available to the general public in an area is to do some initial field testing to make sure the bus stop inventory is accurate and TAD works properly in the transit environment in your area. . 12. How much will TAD cost, and who will pay for the service? TAD is still emerging from “research project” status, so we don’t have all the answers yet for how a commercial TAD system will operate. USF Division of Patents and Licensing is identifying potential commercial partners to ensure that TAD is a properly supported and successful service. The partner is likely to determine the appropriate business model – transit-agency sponsored (e.g., grants), user-fee supported, or combination.
13. How can I help make TAD successful?
The long-term success of TAD will likely be driven by three tasks: a) Designing a user-friendly system that uses existing phone and communication networks technologies that delivers real value to customers b) Demonstrating to transit agencies that TAD is a useful and needed service that will help transit riders c) Identifying sources of funding for the transit agency to support the operational cost of TAD.
14. I am interested in testing TAD in our city. What are the detailed requirements of my transit agency for participating in TAD testing?
• Put your transit data into the GTFS format
• Assign/delegate a travel trainer or similar personnel within the transit agency, to assist the CUTR research team in field testing TAD. If the agency does not employ transit trainers but outsources the service, a representative from the related service would be expected to complete same tasks. This person would actively assist the project team with testing TAD as part of their daily trips to test bus stop accuracy, TAD performance in that environment, etc. and providing feedback to CUTR. If TAD is made available to the public on a limited basis, this person would assist in recruiting individual participants, securing parental consent if necessary, conducting participant orientation sessions, and helping to evaluate TAD performance on that transit agency and obtaining feedback from any participants. Travel trainer will also correct any observed errors for bus stop locations through TAD webpage and provide feedback to CUTR research team.
• Travel trainers will participate and successfully complete USF Institutional Review Board free online training as part of the research team (approximately 1 to 2 hours). The USF Division of Research Integrity & Compliance administers key research-related assurance and compliance programs required by federal and state agencies and programs for the conduct of research at USF.
• Provide the following data (from last year or two) on travel training to the CUTR research team: number of trainers, average number of trainees a month, average number of individuals on the waiting list to receive training, list of any partnerships with a transition program, new rider training, senior training, etc.
• Provide free access to transit system for CUTR research team and field test participants/volunteers for the testing period.