Cape Town’s MyCiTi Control Centre which is being reinstated to track and monitor MyCiTi busses will be fully operational within the next two to three months.

According to Transport for Cape Town (TCT), the centre will be up and running once the hardware, software and related systems, collectively known as the Advanced Public Transport Management System (APTMS), are fully reinstated.

“Once the APTMS is fully completed and we are satisfied with the outcome of the pilot phase, the MyCiTi Control Centre will be tracking and monitoring each and every MyCiTi bus across the city,” city councillor Brett Herron said.

He explained that the system will enable the city to keep track of delays and we will be able to inform commuters about the departure time of every bus on every route on the passenger information displays (PIDs) at all of the MyCiTi stations.

Once fully operational, the APTMS will assist us in improving the service and communicating real-time information to our passengers,” he said.

The MyCiTi service currently covers 40 routes across the city, has 42 stations and more than 700 bus stops.

“Our fleet consists of 377 buses and covers nearly 1,5 million kilometres each month, transporting up to 68,010 passengers on a weekday,” Herron said. “Keeping track of every bus on every route will assist us in monitoring the vehicle operating companies’ schedule adherence, as well as bus driver behaviour and bus traveling speeds at any point in time.”

The APTMS pilot, which commenced during September 2016, has been successfully completed. The system is now gradually being rolled out to include the remaining MyCiTi buses and routes.

Hardware

Nearly 40% of the MyCiTi fleet is fitted with advanced vehicle location hardware. The software is installed onto the hardware and enables city officials to track and monitor the buses and communicate with drivers from the control centre.

Nearly 30% of the fleet is operational with network video recorder hardware and software which includes CCTV cameras and displays.

“The footage recorded enables us to investigate all incidents involving our fleet,” Herron said. “We are aiming to have the hardware and software installed on all of the buses during the next two to three months.”

Real-time updates and announcements

Commuters travelling on the N2 Express service between Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha and Cape Town were the first to benefit from the roll-out of the real-time updates about the MyCiTi bus departures.

“What is meant by real-time is that the PID indicates to commuters in how many minutes the next bus on a particular route is to depart from that particular platform,” Herron explained.

These advances are now being gradually rolled out on all of the MyCiTi routes, as well as on-the-bus announcements indicating the name of the next stop along a route.

“These announcements are useful for those who are not paying attention to the route itself, commuters who are not familiar with the routes and stops, or commuters with partial sight or no sight at all who have to rely on their hearing or others for assistance,” Herron said.

Additional training

In addition, the 555 bus drivers who are currently employed by the MyCiTi vehicle operating companies are being trained to operate the bus communication system which allows them to be in constant voice contact with the MyCiTi Control Centre based in Goodwood.

“The bus drivers who operate the buses along the N2 Express routes in Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha have been in direct communication with the MyCiTi Control Centre since September 2016 already,” Herron said. “There have been several cases during these past months where bus drivers asked for assistance during emergencies and we were able to respond immediately.”

Herron explained that because bus drivers are able to communicate with the control centre from their respective locations, they can avoid risky situations by requesting assistance with route deviations.

“The system controllers assist the bus drivers with schedule adherence, and can warn bus drivers in advance of accidents or suspicious activities that may pose a danger to the driver and the passengers,” Herron said. “Once the APTMS is fully reinstated, this system will be operational on all of the MyCiTi buses.”