PAT gets smartcards for fares
Wow, I have never ridden the T. This does not make me feel like I am missing anything.
mattjackets: Ah, that makes sense. I’m guessing you had to stay on the T until Memorial Hall, 7 stops and 11 minutes later, since that’s the next stop after South Hills Junction where they use the second car. If an operator ever keeps you on the T like that again, I suggest filing a complaint on PAT’s web site.
And not collecting fares occasionally shouldn’t be a big deal. Public transit is not a business, it’s a tax-supported public service, with a user fee designed to cover a small fraction of the costs, while regulating usage a little.
I think the issue with second cars is largely due to lack of signage. There should be signs on all the downtown platforms, near where the second car’s doors open, listing the stops it serves. Instead, there’s an occasional PA system announcement, and it’s printed on the schedules. Insufficient.
edmonds59: The T is very nice overall. Notice all the people who want T service into Oakland.
Steven, I do not think the GPS readings are being sent back to HQ. I have heard three different reasons for this, and am not sure which is accurate.
* 1: labor-management dispute over being used as a punitive tool, in violation of contract;
* 2: technology not in place, either due to them not purchasing it, or the radio system not being hooked to the GPS receiver, or the (1993-era) radios not being able to combine GPS signals with regular two-way communication.
* 3: a patent troll is suing any transit company that tries to implement such a system.
Of these, #3 is the most plausible. But regardless, the data isn’t there, and it’s going to take a 7- or 8-digit figure, however obtained, to do that job properly. They absolutely have to replace the radios next year (like analog TV, the band is going away), so maybe we can get it then.
RFID vs Strip. I don’t see advantages one over the other from the point ov view of networking support. Same signal transfer, same authorization, etc. the only difference is how we get initial info — RFID signal or reading a strip. and after you get this info everything is pretty much the same.
But from the point of view of reliability RFID card IMHO is more preferable:
1. It’s not susceptible to magnets.
2. It’s harder to damage physically (and we know if magnet strip sticks to side of your wallet then it’s damaged; and this is one of the main reason cards got replaced).
3. Magnet strip requires physical contact with magnetic head. While technology (metal glass) are provide us with good heads lasting for real long time there is still maintenance problem with heads. We should account how many people would swipe card. RFID does not have this problem.
The problem with RFID is that anyone could read your card without you knowing it. But it’s when security plays its role — protocol of exchange should secure. Some people prefer to have aluminum foil in their wallets or special wallets protecting its content from radio waves.
@mattjackets and Steven. It looks like you are talking about Blue line. But there is Red line also.
1. South Hills Junction — High
2. Boggs — High
3. Bon Air — High
4. Denise — High
5. South Bank — High
6. McNailly — High
7. Killarny — High
8. Memorial Hall — High
9. Willow — High
10. St. Anne’s — Low
1. South Hills Junction — High
2. Palm Garden — Low
3. Pennant — Low
4. Westfield — Low
5. Fallowfield — High
6. Hampshire — Low
7. Balasco — Low
8. Shiras — Low
9. Stevenson — Low
10. Potomac — High
11. Dortmon Junction — High
12. Mt. Lebanon — High
13. Poplar — Low
14. Arlington — Low
15. Castle Shanon — High
16. Overbrook Junction — High
17. St. Anne’s — Low
Thanks Stu. Interesting. I think they’ve said publicly that the holdup is simply funding. If they still don’t have the GPS systems on every bus transmitting yet, that would explain why they need so much of it.
Re: RFID security. PAT’s readers need the card right up next to them. I guess it’s comforting that somebody trying to secretly read your card might need to get within 0.25″ of it.
@Steven They have GPS receiver at every bus — you can take look how driver works with it (on the right side of the driver — pretty big box). We are talking about transceivers here. I believe they have it also. At least it looks like that all time points are reported back. But GPS allows to monitor current speed and current position also which makes for drivers impossible to walk to shop and buy something. Or to cut some corners (or even go beyond speed limit).
RFID security is an interesting can of worms. The cheapest cards just transmit their serial number when powered. These can be read and used later, any time by a thief. Paying more can result in a card with basic challenge-response mechanism. Those would require the thief to be in RF contact with both the reader & victim card simultaneously.
Requiring physical contact with the reader is a simple way to gain a lot of security cheaply. Smart cards, which require electrical contact, may be a better option if the reliability of mag-stripe cards is a concern…but I think modern cards hold up pretty well. Surely well enough to survive a single day of riding the train. For regular users who have the same card for months/years mag-stripe on paper is obviously a bad plan.
EDIT: @Steven, while the reader in the bus may not be able to generate a field capable of powering a card a few inches away, a larger coil could interact with the reader & a card at much, much greater distances.
@Steven Re: RFID security. PAT’s readers need the card right up next to them. I guess it’s comforting that somebody trying to secretly read your card might need to get within 0.25″ of it.
No. RFID does not have its own power. All power is coming from radio waves. So PAT reading device is low power. But if I have reader with more powerful transceiver then I can read from farther distance. So it’s up to thieve to chose distance (and solving the problem if two or more cards reply simultaneously).
I wouldn’t say it’s “ideal” to do both. It would be more expensive, more confusing, and it’s not like mag strip cards are very great anyways. NYC is getting rid of theirs.
As far as GPS tracking, Rich Fitzgerald told me in person that the “blame the union” thing is complete BS (like most “blame the union” stories).
I talked to a woman from PAT whose name I can’t remember at the thing they had at the library who swore it was #2 – there is no way to transmit the data back to HQ. It’s just a matter of money.
Mikhail – Almost every bus they’ve bought since 1999 has GPS technlogy … to receive a signal, to trigger the automatic calling of bus stops. That is a simple, self-contained system. It is an order of magnitude more complex to wire that system to a radio system, manufactured 15 years earlier, to send the information back to HQ.
Then there needs to be a system in place to receive that data, decode it, store it, analyze it, and issue reports indicating that issues exist. Same system, were it to exist, could then also feed data back out to the world to inform riders whether the bus they’re looking for has already gone past or not. And that specific thing is where the patent troll enters the picture.
Todd, IPv6 has a special framework to support mobile stuff (even moving IP address or reallocating it and dynamically route it). But we don’t even need it. Cell phones uses EDGE, GPRS, etc. My individual data plan cost me $15 a month. Our corporate rates are much better. With external antennas for both GPS and cell phone and internal supply of energy you can have signal basically anywhere where PAT goes (except tunnels for GPS (but even in tunnels it could be solved with differential stations but it price). So one phone per bus and corporate deal with one of cell providers and problem solved.
Or something like this — http://www.brickhousesecurity.com/category/gps+tracking/fleet+gps+tracking.do
I’m not disputing that solutions exist, just that the PAT buses aren’t equipped with them.
The idea of strapping cellphones to buses has certainly occurred to me. It’s probably not reliable enough for actual use, which always ends up driving up the cost.
CMU has tried to crowdsource it, although I haven’t used it much: http://www.tiramisutransit.com/
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