TO: Mayor and Town Council
FROM: W. Calvin Horton, Town Manager
SUBJECT: Proposal for a Real Time Passenger Information System for Chapel Hill Transit
DATE: February 27, 2006
The purpose of this report is to recommend a vendor to install a Real Time Passenger Information System for Chapel Hill Transit.
Adoption of the attached resolution would accept a bid proposal from Nextbus Information Systems, Inc. for installation of a Real Time Passenger Information System.
The Real Time Passenger Information System would provide Chapel Hill Transit with an integrated automatic vehicle location and passenger information system. The system would use Global Positioning System (GPS)-based technology to provide vehicle location status and arrival information for transit users. This technology would provide the time that buses would arrive at bus stops via passenger display signs, the internet, and other potential outlets.
Request for Proposals
Initially, the Town solicited proposals for this project in March, 2004. On May 24, 2004, the Council rejected the one proposal received as over-budget and authorized the Manager to revise the specifications and issue a new request for proposals. Town staff worked with staff from the Institute of Transportation Research to develop the revised request for proposals to procure the system.
A Request for Proposals for this project was re-advertised in the Chapel Hill News on September 11, 2005 and in Passenger Transport on September 12, 2005. In lieu of a pre-bid conference, proposers were permitted to submit written questions for purposes of clarifying this Request for Proposals by September 29, 2005. Proposals were due on November 10, 2005.
The Real Time Passenger Information System would enable Chapel Hill Transit to disseminate vehicle arrival time to passengers. The system would post real time bus arrival times to the internet and to 14 digital message signs at bus stops with the highest number of passenger boardings and at park ride lots. Information provided by the system also would improve schedule adherence and facilitate more accurate scheduling. It also would assist in responding to customer complaints regarding vehicles arrivals and departures times.
In 2003, Congressman David Price obtained for the Town an earmark grant for an Intelligent Transportation System deployment program. The funds were to be used for obtaining a Real Time Passenger Information System for Chapel Hill Transit.
The total funds available for this project include: $623,957 in federal funds, $249,583 in State funds and $106,680 in previously-awarded State technology funds, for a total of $980,220. The funds are available in the Transportation Department grant fund.
Evaluation of Proposals
Four firms submitted proposals: NextBus Information Systems, Inc.; Mentor Engineering; Greyhawk Technologies, Inc.; and Digital Recorders. These proposals were reviewed by an evaluation team comprised of Town staff and representatives from Triangle Transit Authority, the Institute of Transportation Research, the University and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
The proposals were evaluated according to the criteria listed in the RFP which were:
Responsiveness of the technical proposal to the requirements stated in the RFP: 40%
Creativity in minimizing communications expenses: 10%
Functionality and ease of use: 10%
Experience and qualifications of the project team: 15%
The prices received from the firms were:
All four firms were invited to participate in vendor demonstrations on November 29, 2005. After the demonstrations, the evaluation team selected two firms, NextBus and Digital Recorders for further evaluation.
On January 19, 2006 Digital Recorders and NextBus were invited to do a second, more detailed demonstration. Along with the evaluation team, transit drivers, supervisors and dispatchers were invited to watch the second demonstrations.
NextBus demonstrated the operational capabilities of their system using a web site for one of several municipalities that have active NextBus web sites. Digital Recorders demonstrated web site functionality and a development process that would provide a customized web site for Chapel Hill Transit.
Following the January 19 demonstrations, the evaluation team met to review the results of the second demonstration and the input from the Chapel Hill Transit operations staff. The evaluation team noted that NextBus has proven applications in more than 30 transit agencies. The NextBus website was considered to be user friendly and was preferred by the Chapel Hill Transit operations staff members who attended the presentations on January 19. The Digital Recorders proposed solution was viewed as a development process rather than a turnkey application. Although the ability to customize the web site application was considered to be a plus, there were concerns about the time required to complete the development process.
The evaluation team recommends the proposal submitted by NextBus Information Systems, Inc. The cost proposal from NextBus of $949,025 is within the funds available for the project.
Manager’s Recommendation: That the Council adopt the attached resolution, accepting the proposal received from NextBus Information Systems, Inc. to install a Real time Passenger Information System for Chapel Hill Transit.