Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) was seeking to upgrade its onboard video systems for its Yellow School Bus services. It opted for technology from AD Mobile — part of AD Group — the TransVu Express mobile DVR.
Vehicles currently installed with the new systems are Irisbus Scolabuses which are procured by GMPTE and operated as part of its contracts with local operators.
GMPTE's Customised Services Officer, Gary Young, has responsibility for all of the organization's vehicles — in terms of specification, design, repair and maintenance. “GMPTE started Yellow School Bus operations in 2003 and from the beginning CCTV formed an integral part of the package,” he said. “The key benefit we get from CCTV is in controlling anti-social behavior and incident management.
“GMPTE operates a scheme where pupils, operators and the schools are all signed up to a code of conduct. As part of the scheme, vehicles have a dedicated driver and pupils are allocated passes and choose a specific seat on the bus,” he said. “Vehicles are fully accessible and all-age seat belts are fitted for passenger safety.”
“If there are any incidents on board the buses, video footage can be downloaded and examined,” Young said. “We have found the CCTV systems extremely helpful for clarifying disputes and influencing behavior.”
“As part of the ongoing development of our Yellow School Bus scheme we are looking to adopt more modern CCTV systems using improved technology,” Young said. “In practice, we found physically downloading the recordings was fraught with problems — not least of these was having the vehicle in the right place when we needed to retrieve the data. The latest Wi-Fi systems are proving far more reliable and with automatic wireless downloading as the vehicle enters the depot, there is no effort required.”
“We are currently upgrading our existing CCTV systems because of the additional benefits of wireless download, improved reliability and the opportunity to integrate with other on-bus systems that will give us more information on vehicle performance, driving standards and revenue protection,” he said.
Product Selection and Installation
The video surveillance systems are installed by Iveco specialist Walton Summit Truck Centre at Bamber Bridge. This organization has developed a reputation for being capable when it comes to dealing with any issues regarding Irisbus vehicles — thanks to Project Manager Bill Flanagan and After Sales Business Development Manager Tony Donnelly.
The supplying dealer is Millennium CCTV. Run by MD Penny Chatburn who has been involved in static security monitoring systems for education and construction for more than 30 years, Millennium's move into mobile systems is a new venture.
Chatburn said, “GMPTE contacted me about supplying a more technically advanced system with improved reliability. Between 12 to18 months ago we settled on AD Group as the system supplier. We particularly liked the fact that they were a UK-headquartered provider and, crucially, we had been a long term advocate of CCTV solutions from their subsidiaries — most notably Dedicated Micros.”
“When it comes to CCTV on the move we are now working directly with a new arm of the company, called AD Mobile, which has been formed to deal with on-vehicle CCTV and other data collection and monitoring equipment,” he said. “This includes the ability to gain driver and vehicle performance, CO2 emissions, fuel consumption and vehicle location.”
“GMPTE eventually settled on a six-camera system and the compact TransVu Express digital video and data recorder unit,” Chatburn said. “They can be fitted with up to eight cameras if necessary, but we felt six was appropriate for this application. One looks forwards, another to rear, which also acts as a reversing camera, one monitors any ticketing transactions, one covers the entrance steps and the other two can see all passenger activity in the saloon.”
The TransVu Express selected in this case has sufficient space to record digital data for up to one month's normal operation.
Compact Size Helps Installation
Looking at the installation process, Bill Flanagan from Walton Summit Truck Centre said, “We found the TransVu unit's compact size a real bonus. It has also proved extremely rugged and reliable.
“One of our problems has always been the size of some digital recording units and finding somewhere convenient to install them safely,” he said. “We've worked very closely with Irisbus and bodybuilder Vehixel on this project and we've managed to get them on side.”
“Irisbus is now having wiring looms produced with provision for attaching CCTV cameras and we've got them to rearrange the fuse and relay layout on the electrical control panel,” Flanagan said. “This has created enough space to fit the TransVu Express and a Wi-Fi router. The whole thing sits behind a removable panel on the fascia — so it is simple and accessible."
Under the present five-year contract with GMPTE, the company has installed TransVu systems on eight vehicles and there is potentially another 100 to do. Another customer coming on stream is Humberside County Council. It wants to have TransVu systems installed on three vehicles immediately and another six will follow later.
Charles Lewis of AD Mobile said, "We are delighted to have been involved in the GMPTE project. Within AD Group, AD Mobile has specific responsibility for all aspects of sales and technical support for the TransVu range of mobile digital video recorders and CCTV products.
"TransVu Express is a fully-featured system suitable for up to eight cameras with all the wireless communication features necessary for compatibility with cellular networks such as GPRS, HSDPA and 3-G,” he said. “The TransVu Express mirror-flips the rear-facing camera image when reverse gear is selected, returning to a multiscreen driver display in forward operation. The larger TransVu system can accept up 16 camera feeds to cater for the additional requirements of double deckers.”
"At AD Mobile we also offer TransVu Media systems feeding on-board monitors or display screens with pre-programmed advertising, passenger information — such as next stop announcements — and this can highlight places of interest along the route,” Lewis said. “Certain saved screens can be triggered as the vehicle passes a specific point — giving the information much more impact."