Ask the Board – September 29, 2016 | DOUG ANDERSON

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Are there any appropriate applications for consumer displays in your experience? Why or why not?


Los Angeles Metro is the third largest transportation agency in the nation with 2,500 buses at 15,000 bus stops and eight rail/fixed guide way systems at 100 transit stations. We provide 24/7 service for up to 1.5 million daily riders.

Although digital display technology was implemented at all of our transit stations primarily to support real-time arrival data, more recent initiatives have focused on interweaving promotional, safety and way-finding messages as well. Also being explored is geo-targeted advertising for additional revenue generation.

Many of our early stations were equipped with consumer-grade displays which, due to heavy 24/7 use combined with the need to run at maximum brightness and using older display technology, failed at an alarmingly low number of service hours. This led to a modification of our display service spec and a move towards commercial-grade displays, which has greatly improved service life. In our environment, the actual cost to physically replace a display is far greater than the cost of the actual display – even considering the increased cost of commercial- grade display technology.

We currently support approximately 550 active displays at transit stations.  We have two pilot display projects in motion to test expanded display application use. The first will implement 300+ on street displays for bus stop arrival information, which will expose the displays to weather and bright sunlight. The second pilot project will add displays to the interior of moving buses to display dynamic information based on the vehicle’s current location. This pilot will support 150 Wi-Fi equipped buses.

Assuming the pilot projects are successful, we envision adding several thousand new digital displays fleet wide and city wide to our overall signage network. We would also like to test the use of large advertising displays mounted to the exterior of our buses, but as of yet, we have been unable to find large-format commercial-grade technology capable of withstanding the rigors of bus travel on pothole-laden city streets along with exposure to daily automated bus washing equipment.

Nevertheless, my point is that, our experience here at LA Metro is that a typical city transit environment requires robust foolproof display technology capable of withstanding continuous jarring and shock, exposure to weather and the elements all while providing the extreme brightness and color saturation needed to provide an easily viewable image in bright outdoor sunlight. Even the best consumer grade displays are no match for this demand.

About Author

Senior Director – Information Technology
LA Metro Transit

MEMBER OF THE DSE ADVISORY BOARD
End User Council

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