Ensuring Data Protection: How PRTC Fortified Their CAD/AVL System in the Cloud

Ensuring Data Protection: How PRTC Fortified Their CAD/AVL System in the Cloud

For transit agencies, even minor technological upgrades can result in significant improvements. The Potomac & Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC) exemplified this by making a major advancement through the transition of its legacy CAD/AVL system to the cloud.

The PRTC system serves Prince William County, Virginia, and the surrounding areas, accommodating over 1.5 million riders annually on 168 buses. Recognizing the need for an upgrade, PRTC saw an opportunity to modernize its IT infrastructure to enhance communication speed and reliability, as well as deploy new management tools. PRTC managers sought secure cloud functionality along with new features and benefits for both users and riders.

A New Way to Work

Beyond just being a significant IT infrastructure decision, the Vontas Cloud marks a new operational approach for the transit agency. By moving to the cloud, PRTC saves on IT infrastructure costs, fosters quicker adoption of innovation and automation, and reduces the time-to-market for services that enhance the passenger experience.

The Vontas Cloud transformation achieved objectives across various PRTC departments. From an IT standpoint, adopting a cloud infrastructure was essential.

“The main driver was getting off of on-premise servers,” said Carl Roeser, Manager of Information Technology. “It was time to get OnRoute to the cloud. Along with that, we were in desperate need of an upgrade, so it seemed natural to move to the cloud and upgrade simultaneously.”

Vontas assisted PRTC in completing this transition on schedule within six months. This was PRTC’s first implementation with Vontas, and it exceeded expectations. “Better than I had anticipated,” Roeser noted, comparing it favorably to other projects. 

Better Communications, Happier Dispatchers

The Vontas Cloud migration resolved several longstanding issues for the operations department. Prior to the upgrade, downloading files to buses was inefficient and caused delays in receiving critical updates. Additionally, buses needed to be in the yard and near the antenna to connect to the network, meaning off- site buses did not receive updates until they returned to the yard.

“One of the greatest improvements is that we can now update files on buses wherever they are, whether on route or at a shop in Florida. As soon as they connect to the internet, they get the files,” said Joy Walker, Transport Planner.

Real-time communication has also enhanced the speed and quality of announcements, improving the experience for frequent riders. Under the old system, removing and replacing a recorded announcement could take two days or more, causing outdated announcements to be heard repeatedly. Now, announcements can be updated promptly when they are no longer relevant.

“When we moved to the cloud,” Walker explained, “we could remove outdated announcements from the buses by the afternoon, so people who heard the announcement in the morning didn’t hear it again on their way home.”

An Enthusiastic Reception

During training, dispatchers quickly recognized the advantages of the OnRoute upgrade, enthusiastically embracing the new features. “It really brought a sense of renewal,” said Carl Roeser, Manager of Information Technology. “It’s a tool they can genuinely use and understand.”

Donicia Thornton, a PRTC dispatcher, highlighted the enhanced map as one of her favorite features. “It’s more detailed and offers a lot more functionality that I’m still learning to use,” she said. “It helps us locate buses more easily and provides a wealth of information, which is incredibly helpful, especially if a bus is
lost or off-route.”

Keeyanah Sims, Transit Application Specialist for PRTC, believes the upgrade and migration to the cloud were well worth it. “We’ve never had this many people eager to use the system, and they are using it now. I receive fewer calls from customer service about OnRoute and fewer calls from dispatch, believe it or
not.”

Delivering a Better Rider Experience

Although it’s occurring behind the scenes, the upgrade and cloud migration at PRTC will directly benefit its riders. Critical information, such as announcements, will now flow faster, ensuring passengers have the most up-to-date details to plan their journey.

“With OnRoute now in the cloud,” explained Joy Walker, “our dispatchers can access it more easily, leading to more frequent usage and providing passengers with better real-time information.”

The Vontas Cloud migration and OnRoute update empower PRTC to serve riders more effectively while simultaneously reducing operating costs and enhancing cybersecurity and safety measures.

“We owe our customers top-notch service,” stated Carl Roeser. “To deliver information to them promptly, our customer service agents and dispatchers need efficient tools to manage buses and maintain our high level of on-time performance.”

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