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Metlink Real Time Information System Set For Overhaul

New digital signs with more accurate information are coming to Wellington bus stops and train stations thanks to a deal between Greater Wellington’s Metlink and global technology firm NEC.

NEC New Zealand provides smart transport and other technology services for both government and corporate entities and has an ‘Innovation Lab’ in Wellington.

The project to upgrade Metlink’s real time Information (RTI) system will enhance tracking of buses and trains and adds a feature that measures available onboard capacity.

Greater Wellington Transport Committee Chair Thomas Nash says the new RTI system will greatly improve the passenger experience.

“It will track the location of our vehicles every second of the day and update digital signs faster than they update now. Arrival time predictions will be more accurate with any detours factored in,” Cr Nash says.

“The current system is close to its use by date and its inaccuracy is a significant pain point for our passengers. The new system will greatly enhance passenger confidence in our network.

“It will help increase patronage and contribute to our goal of making public transport a more attractive option than driving for as many people as possible.”

Information on NEC’s new signs will be generated by Metlink and displayed using software developed by Wellington’s Somar Digital.

Along with the new signs, text to speech units will be installed at some bus stops for blind and visually impaired passengers.

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The project will also make life easier for bus drivers. New tablets will be fitted onboard buses that display route diversions within seconds of being transmitted by operators.

Managing Director of NEC New Zealand, Mel Barber, says the company was pleased to have been selected ahead of significant competition to deliver a project that aligns with NEC’s social values around sustainability.

“NEC is a multi-national company with a strong New Zealand presence. That means we can draw on both local knowledge and global experience, to deliver and maintain the system for years to come,” Ms Barber says.

“NEC has the skill and experience to provide a state-of-the-art system that Wellingtonians will be proud of,” says Darren Scofield, NEC’s Head of Smart Transport for New Zealand.

“We look forward to drawing on the expertise of our Wellington based partner HTS Group to install the new signs, text-to-speech units, and bus tracking devices, which will greatly improve the travel experience of public transport users and bus drivers in the Wellington region.”

Metlink Group Manager Samantha Gain says rolling out such a large project could take up to two-years.

“About 250 digital signs around the region need to be replaced and new hardware installed on approximately 450 buses. By June 2024 we hope to have the new RTI software up and running in the background, and the whole project completed by December 2025,” Ms Gain says.

“We greatly appreciate our passengers’ patience while we roll out the new system. Providing more timely and accurate information will help improve public confidence and satisfaction in our network.”

The cost of setting up the new RTI system is estimated to be $8m, with about $11m more available to maintain the system over the next 10 years. Fifty-one percent of this cost is being funded by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

For the latest information on the Metlink public transport network, visit Metlink - Public Transport

To view an animation promoting the new RTI screens coming to bus stops, visit: New NEC Metlink Bus Stop Signs (youtube.com)

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