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Transit Management > Operations & Fleet Management > Automatic Vehicle Location / Computer-Aided Dispatch


Automatic vehicle location (AVL) and computer aided dispatch (CAD) systems facilitate the management of transit operations, providing up-to-date information on vehicle locations to assist transit dispatchers as well as inform travelers of bus status.


Up to 10 self-driving electric shuttles will start circling Columbus Ohio’s Scioto Mile with an estimated total cost of $4 million for all three phases of the program. (12/04/2018)

Deployment of a new CAD/AVL and voice communication system to cost the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit $21 million.(May 13, 2015)

Deployment of a new CAD/AVL and voice communication system to cost the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit $21 million.(May 13, 2015)

A maintenance contract for an AVL system with 265 fleet vehicles was estimated to cost $64,719 (CAN) per year.(03/17/2014)

Deployment of an Advanced Public Transit System (APTS) for a mid-size transit system costs $150,000.(July 2009)

Recent contract awards suggest the capital costs to implement bus AVL systems range from $10,000 to $20,000 per vehicle.(2008)

The METropolitan Special Transit, a paratransit service in Billings, Montana, spent approximately $43,500 to add automatic vehicle location (AVL) technology to its fleet of 15 vehicles. $83,575 was spent for a computer-assisted scheduling and dispatching (CASD) software system.(May 2, 2007)

Capital costs for transit vehicle mobile data terminals typically range between $1,000 and $4,000 per unit, with installation costs frequently between $500 and $1,000.(2007)

Driver assist and automation systems can substantially increase the cost of a new bus.(2007)

In Michigan, the Flint Mass Transportation Authority budgeted $1 million to develop a central system for county-wide AVL.(June 2005)

The annualized life-cycle costs for full ITS deployment and operations in Tucson were estimated at $72.1 million. (May 2005)

A modeling study evaluated the potential deployment of full ITS capabilities in Cincinnati. The annualized life-cycle cost was estimated at $98.2 million.(May 2005)

The annualized life-cycle costs for full ITS deployment and operations in Seattle were estimated at $132.1 million.(May 2005)

TMC central hardware costs can exceed $200,000 if regional communications and system integration are required.(5 August 2004)

The ITS components for the Bus Rapid Transit system in the Greater Vancouver area of British Columbia, Canada costs $5.8 million (Canadian).(August 2003)

Client Referral, Ridership, and Financial Tracking (CRRAFT), a New Mexico Web-based system that provides coordination between funding agencies and their subgrantees cost about $1 million to implement. CRRAFT is one of five transit agency highlighted in a rural transit ITS best practices case study.(March 2003)

Based on information from 18 agencies worldwide, the costs of real-time bus arrival information systems vary depending on AVL technology, fleet size, and provisioning of real-time information. (2003)

The cost of the capital infrastructure of the Cape Cod Advanced Public Transit System—which included radio tower upgrades, local area network upgrades, AVL/MDT units (total of 100), and software upgrades—was $634,582.(January 2003)

A Minnesota integrated communications system project to share application of ITS across transportation, public safety, and transit agencies cost just over $1.5 million.(November 2001)

Detailed communications equipment costs for the Denver Regional Transportation District regional transit AVL/CAD system.(August 2000)

The Denver Regional Transportation District deployed a regional transit AVL/CAD system for $10.4 million; O&M costs were estimated at $1.9 million. (August 2000)

The cost to implement an advanced public transportation systems in Ann Arbor, Michigan was $32,500 per bus.(October 1999)

Central Dispatch Workstation - Capital cost/unit - $700(July 2009)

Mobile Data Terminal - Fixed Route Service - Capital cost/unit - $1747(July 2009)

Central Dispatch Server - Capital cost/unit - $1700(July 2009)

AVL system hardware - Capital cost/unit - $1500 - O&M cost/unit - $60(February 2009)

AVL system hardware - Capital cost/unit - $1500 - O&M cost/unit - $60(February 2009)

AVL system software integrated with scheduling - Capital cost/unit - $1500 - O&M cost/unit - $60(February 2009)

On-board transit AVL equipment - Capital cost/unit - $1500 - O&M cost/unit - $60(February 2009)

Transit AVL Interface - Capital cost/unit - $25000 - O&M cost/unit - $2500(February 2009)

On-board transit AVL equipment - Capital cost/unit - $1500 - O&M cost/unit - $60(February 2009)

Mobile Data Terminal - Fixed Route Service - Capital cost/unit - $4200 - O&M cost/unit - $111(2007)

Mobile Data Terminal - Fixed Route Service Installation - Capital cost/unit - $4200 - O&M cost/unit - $111(2007)

Mobile Data Terminal - Fixed Route Service Installation - Capital cost/unit - $4200 - O&M cost/unit - $111(2007)

Mobile Data Terminal - Fixed Route Service Installation - Capital cost/unit - $4200 - O&M cost/unit - $111(2007)

Mobile Data Terminal - Fixed Route Service - Capital cost/unit - $4200 - O&M cost/unit - $111(2007)

On-Board Text Messaging - Transit - Capital cost/unit - $15500(5 August 2004)

GPS/Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) for Vehicle Location - Transit - Capital cost/unit - $15500(5 August 2004)

Rural Transit APTS Depoyment Travel - Capital cost/unit - $28520(January 2003)

Rural Transit APTS Software upgrades/evaluation - Capital cost/unit - $61606(January 2003)

Rural Transit APTS Installation - Capital cost/unit - $98394(January 2003)

Rural Transit APTS AVL/MDT/EFP system* - Capital cost/unit - $3125(January 2003)

Rural Transit APTS Radio towers upgrade - Capital cost/unit - $23005(January 2003)

Rural Transit APTS Local area network - Capital cost/unit - $117920 - O&M cost/unit - $34838(January 2003)

Rural Transit APTS Deployment GIS data anal - Capital cost/unit - $64921(January 2003)

Rural Transit APTS subcontractor overhead - Capital cost/unit - $14250(January 2003)

Rural Transit APTS Deployment Project Mgmt - Capital cost/unit - $95040(January 2003)

Rural Transit APTS Design - Capital cost/unit - $98075(January 2003)

Transit Center Labor - Capital cost/unit - $54600(7/22/2002)

Transit Center Vehicle Location Interface - Capital cost/unit - $11000 - O&M cost/unit - $5400 - Lifetime - 7 years(7/22/2002)

Transit Center Software for Tracking and Scheduling - Capital cost/unit - $46200 - O&M cost/unit - $6000 - Lifetime - 7 years(7/22/2002)

Transit Center Hardware - Capital cost/unit - $7500 - Lifetime - 7 years(7/22/2002)

Improve passenger information accuracy and reduce redundant hardware without overwhemling communications capacity, by integrating adaptive traffic signal priorty and dynamic passenger information systems into existing AVL/ACS systems on transit vehicles.(August 2011)

Transit operations decision support systems (TODSS) reduce false and low priority incident reports sent to dispatchers by 60 percent, allowing dispatchers to focus on higher priority incidents.(February 2010)

Joint deployment of scheduling software and Automatic Vehicle Location/Mobile Data Terminals (AVL/MDT) increased ridership and quality of service for two rural transit providers.(December 2010)

Implementation of an adaptive transit signal priority system resulted in 5 percent reductions in running time and 18 to 32 percent reductions in bus intersection delays in San Mateo County.(June 2010)

Automatic vehicle location (AVL) on Reno buses leads to nearly four percent increase in on-time performance for paratransit services and more comprehensive schedule adherence data to create more accurate schedules.(May 2010)

Forty-five percent reduction in complaints by paratransit riders, 50 percent less missed trips due to mechanical problems, and a new trip planning tool for fixed-route riders introduced as part of ITS deployment in Reno.(May 2010)

Overtime hours for drivers reduced and no staff increase necessary to handle over 10 percent increase in transit ridership over six years.(May 2010)

Estimated reduction of 9.37 million personal vehicle miles traveled and 4,252 metric tons of CO2 from increased transit ridership in Reno, Nevada.(May 2010)

Cameras on buses and in facilites improve rider and driver sense of security and reduce insurance claims paid to passengers, while scheduling software saved $1 million in labor costs.(December 16, 2009)

Data archive warehousing pays for itself in less than 1.4 years and scheduling software saves almost four weeks per year for operations planners.(December 2009)

In Waterloo, Canada, express bus service equipped with ITS technologies results in 3,650 tons annual decrease in green house gas emissions.(December 2009)

In rural Pennsylvania, demand-response service vehicles experienced a nine percent increase in overall on-time performance and over five percent decrease in non-revenue miles traveled.(08/31/2009)

Implementation of ITS with AVL, real-time passenger information, and electronic fare media in a mid-sized transit system resulted in a minimum 3.9:1 benefit/cost ratio.(July 2009)

Increasing integration between AVL systems, components, and interfaces has improved the ability of transit agencies to collect data on location and schedule adherence; support operational control, service restoration, and planning activities.(2008)

Bus rapid transit (BRT) can reduce transit running times by 38 to 69 percent, increase ridership by 35 to 77 percent, and improve service reliability.(2007)

Comprehensive proposed transit ITS implementation proposes numerous operational efficiency and customer satisfaction benefits.(24 August 2006)

Transit operators and dispatchers for the South Lake Tahoe Coordinated Transit System (CTS) are generally satisfied with the new system deployed and feel that it can provide good capabilities for future service expansion.(4/14/2006)

Full ITS deployment in Seattle projects personal travel time reductions of 3.7 percent for drivers and 24 percent for transit users.(May 2005)

In Salt Lake City, Utah, a transit Connection Protection system yielded a small, but not statistically significant, increase in the number of travelers satisfied with their travel experience; 87 percent compared to 85 percent.(5/12/2004)

A survey of visitors to the Acadia National Park in Maine found that more than 80 percent who experienced on-board next-stop announcements and real-time bus departure signs agreed these technologies made it easier to get around.(June 2003)

In Portland, Oregon, the Tri-Met transit agency used archived AVL data to reduce variation in run times, improve schedule efficiency, and make effective use of resources.(June 2003)

Implementation of radio system combined with AVL/MDT technology leads to increase in trip productivity and better vehicle maintenance in a large service area with low population density.(March 2003)

Implementation of a two-way radio network with paratransit scheduling software provides better customer service, better scheduling, and more efficient staffing.(March 2003)

New Mexico's scheduling/billing sofware leads to better customer service, more efficient reporting and billing, and better coordination between transportation providers and funding agencies.(March 2003)

Implementation of paratransit software with Automatic Vehicle Location/Mobile Data Terminal (AVT/MDT) technologies leads to increase in trip productivity; reduction in administrative staff; and greater overall confidence in the transportation system.(March 2003)

A survey of visitors to the Acadia National Park in Maine found that 80 percent of bus passengers who used electronic departure signs and 44 percent of bus passengers who experienced real time parking information reported it helped them decide to ride a bus. (February 2003)

Simulation of a transit signal priority system in Helsinki, Finland indicated that fuel consumption decreased by 3.6 percent, Nitrogen oxides were reduced by 4.9 percent, Carbon monoxide decreased by 1.8 percent, hydrocarbons declined by 1.2 percent, and particulate matter decreased by 1.0 percent.(13-17 January 2002.)

In Helsinki, Finland a transit signal priority system improved on-time arrival by 22 to 58 percent and real-time passenger information displays were regarded as useful by 66 to 95 percent of passengers.(13-17 January 2002.)

A transit signal priority system in Helsinki, Finland reduced delay by 44 to 48 percent, decreased travel time by 1 to 11 percent, and reduced travel time by 35,800 to 67,500 passenger-hours per year. (13-17 January 2002.)

Integrated transit ITS technologies for a flexible-route transit service reduced the amount of time required to arrange passenger pick-up or drop-off off the fixed route from two days to two hours.(1/5/2002)

In Denver, 80 percent of RTD dispatchers felt that the GPS functions of the transit AVL system were "easy" or "very easy" to use and approximately half of bus drivers and street supervisors felt likewise.(August 2000)

In Denver, transit AVL decreased early and late arrivals by 12 and 21 percent, respectively.(August 2000)

In 1998, in Portland, Oregon an automatic vehicle location system with computer aided dispatching improved on-time bus performance by 9 percent, reduced headway variability between buses by 5 percent, and decreased run-time by 3 percent.(Summer 2000)

When bus priority was used with an adaptive signal control system in London, England average bus delay was reduced by 7 to 13 percent and average bus delay variability decreased by 10 to 12 percent. (6-12 November 1999)

In San Jose, California, a paratransit program equipped with AVL/CAD and an automated scheduling and routing system, realized increased ridership, better on-time performance, and a $500,000 reduction in annual operating costs.(March/April 1997)

In San Jose, California, a paratransit driver commented that she was satisfied with a new AVL/CAD scheduling and routing system, and said it was useful for settling disputes concerning on-time performance .(March/April 1997)

In Sweetwater, Wyoming a computer assisted dispatching system that allowed same-day ride requests contributed to an 80 percent increased in ridership (5,000 to 9,000 passengers per month), without requiring an increase in dispatch staff. (September 1996)

In Kansas City, Missouri an automatic vehicle location (AVL) system increase productivity by eliminating seven buses out of a 200 bus system that allowed Kansas City to recover their investment in AVL in two years.(14 November 1995)

In Kansas City, transit AVL systems improved on-time bus performance from 80 to 90 percent.(November 1995)

In Kansas City, a transit AVL system reduced the time required to respond to bus drivers' calls for assistance.(November 1995)

Transit AVL can improve O&M and reduce operating expenses.(November 1995)

In Baltimore and Kansas City, AVL improved on-time bus performance by 23 percent and 12 percent, respectively; in Milwaukee, AVL contributed to a 28 percent reduction in buses behind schedule by more than one minute.(July 1995)

In Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a CAD scheduling system and other improvements used to manage 17 transit vehicles decreased passenger wait time by more than 50 percent.(1995)

In Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a CAD scheduling system and other improvements increased vehicle miles per passenger-trip by 5 percent, reduced operating expenses, and contributed to an expanding client list which grew from 1,000 to 2,000 in 6 months(1995)

Deploying advanced wayfinding technologies in transit agencies present communications, legal, institutional, and technical challenges(May 2011)

Operating headway-based transit service during high frequency service hours can reduce bus bunching.(January 2011)

Provide at least the recommended minimum distance between a GPS antenna and a radio antenna on a transit vehicle.(December 2010)

For a comprehensive transit ITS deployment program, select an agency project manager with skills in planning, information technology, and communications.(May 2010)

In deploying a comprehensive transit ITS program, develop strategies and requirements for planning, procurement, implementation, and ongoing operations.(May 2010)

Ensure that the management responsible for transit ITS planning is knowledgeable on agency’s labor contracts and how labor contracts affect effective utilization of ITS tools.(May 2010)

To avoid project implementation delays and unanticipated costs, perform a thorough review of the existing technologies during the planning phase of a comprehensive transit ITS deployment.(May 2010)

Define clear goals for a comprehensive transit ITS deployment program and track the achievement of those goals to evaluate program's success.(May 2010)

Commit to testing the new systems thoroughly, develop an acceptance matrix to document status of testing, and perform verification and validation before introducing them to support agency’s transportation operations.(November 2009)

Ensure proper sequencing of ITS deployments with careful consideration to dependencies among projects and utilize a data warehouse to lessen complexity in ITS integration.(November 2009)

Secure high level management support and broad participation throughout an organization during the implementation and operation of transit automatic vehicle location systems.(2008)

Plan for cellular communications to evolve and transition to new communication technologies every few years.(2008)

Consider the implications of ITS transit technologies on operational efficiencies.(4/14/2006)

Consider the pros and cons of performance bonds as they may not be appropriate for all types of procurements.(January 2006)

Exercise careful planning in preparation for issuing an RFP to help mitigate cost, schedule, and performance risks.(January 2006)

Consider issuing separate awards for specific project components when procuring divergent technologies, equipment, or services.(January 2006)

Use transit intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technologies in rural areas to save agency staff time and create a more user-friendly system.(2/1/2005)

Assure accurate late train arrival forecasts in support of a Connection Protection system.(5/12/2004)

Incorporate real-time bus and train location information in the Connection Protection algorithm.(5/12/2004)

Adjust bus schedules to assure adequate time to accomplish rail-to-bus connections, given the risk of late train arrivals at connecting stations.(5/12/2004)

Provide ITS training for transit systems managers, operators, and maintenance personnel when deploying Advanced Public Transportation Systems.(August 2003)

Develop ways to raise awareness among businesses to promote advanced traveler information sources to their customers.(June 2003)

Consider various technical applications and processes, such as using GIS, evaluating systems compatibility and the facility for upgrades, when deploying ITS.(March 2003)

Design the system to withstand the demands of the physical environment in which it will be deployed.(4/1/2002)

Design and tailor system technology to deliver information of useful quality and quantity, that the user can reasonably absorb.(4/1/2002)

When deploying ITS for transit service, perform a technology assessment during the planning phase, gather technology operator input, and designate a project manager with adequate decision-making authority.(1/5/2002)

Install Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) technology to greatly enhance transit agency performance.(1/1/1999)

Improve demand response transit using ITS technology, including CAD/AVL, with Mobile Data Terminals (MDT), electronic ID cards, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).(1/1/1998)