The public transport authority for the Bizkaian capital of Bilbao and the surrounding area is intent on keeping the service efficient and reliable. To aid them in the task it has commissioned the Etra Norte company to incorporate a GPS (Global Positioning System) into the Bizkaibus fleet of buses. In this way, they can monitor the situation of each vehicle continuously and, at any time, know the exact time it will arrive at a bus stop. Moreover, the application of the system allows changes in the scheduled route to be made. if the situation requires, keeping the travelling public always informed, of course.
The Global Positioning System is based on the reception of signals from a number of satellites with the aim of fixing the exact position of an object, a bus in this case. It involves a sophisticated system of orientation and navigation, receiving and processing the information transmitted from a constellation of 24 satellites in position at an altitude of some 20,000 kilometres above the earth’s surface.
The buses have a GPS receiver on board. If the bus is travelling on a route that is located by three of these satellites, then their signals are received by the receiver, these signals are processed and the position of the bus is automatically determined. The problem arises when the vehicle cannot be “seen” directly by the satellites (for example, in tunnels or very narrow urban streets). The coverage of the GPS system on urban routes is between 50% and 60%. This situation has put the onus on the transport authority managers to take further measures to keep the position of all their vehicles constantly monitored.
Iñaki Lombardía | Basque research
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