1.         Advancing Smartbus Features


Promotion De Caractéristiques Propres Aux Autobus Intelligents



committee recommendations


That Council approve:


1.         Advancing the deployment of two SmartBus features being offered as value-added options by the Next Stop Announcement System (NSAS) vendor Clever Devices.


2.         A budget of $17M for the 2009 Capital Project - Transit Vehicle Information System, which requires no new funding and includes:


a) $6.72M from previous Council-approved NSAS funding;

b) $5.65M from a previously identified SmartBus project that will now be incorporated into the Clever Devices’ platform;

c) $1.6M savings within IO 905146 (Bus Growth); and

d) $3.03M savings within IO 905205 (Bus Replacement).



Recommandations du comité


Que le Conseil approuve :


1.         Le déploiement de deux caractéristiques propres aux autobus intelligents offertes comme options « valeur ajoutée » par la société Clever Devices, fournisseur du Système d’annonce des arrêts.


2.         Un budget de 17 M$ pour le projet d’immobilisation de 2009 – Système d’information sur les véhicule de transport en commun, qui ne nécessite pas de nouveaux crédits et comprend :


a) 6,72 M$ en crédits déjà autorisés par le Conseil pour le Système d’annonce des arrêts;

b) 5,65 M$ en crédits réservés à un projet d’autobus intelligents déjà établi, qui sera intégré à la plate-forme fournie par la société Clever Devices;

c) 1,6 M$ d’épargnes trouvées au poste budgétaire IO 905146 (Expansion du service d’autobus);

d) 3,03 M$ d’épargnes trouvées au poste busdgétaire IO 905205 (remplacement d’autobus).





1. Deputy City Manager report, Infrastructure Services and Community Sustainability dated 8 September 2009 (ACS2009-ICS-TRA-0011).


2.            Extract of Draft Minute, 16 September 2009 to be distributed prior to Council.


Report to/Rapport au :


Transit Committee

Comité du transport en commun


and Council / et au Conseil


08 September 2009 / le 08 septembre 2009


Submitted by/Soumis par : Nancy Schepers, Deputy City Manager/Directrice municipale adjointe,

Infrastructure Services and Community Sustainability/Services d’infrastructure et Viabilité des collectivités 


Contact Person/Personne ressource : Jean-yves Carrier, Program Manager, Transit Vehicle Projects

Transit Services/Services du transport en commun

(613) 842-3636 ext. 2215, jean-yves.carrier@ottawa.ca


City Wide/à l'échelle de la Ville

Ref N°: ACS2009-ICS-TRA-0011








Promotion de caractéristiques propres aux autobus intelligents




That Transit Committee recommend that Council approve:


1.            Advancing the deployment of two SmartBus features being offered as value-added options by the Next Stop Announcement System (NSAS) vendor Clever Devices.


2.         A budget of $17M for the 2009 Capital Project - Transit Vehicle Information System, which requires no new funding and includes:


a)         $6.72M from previous Council-approved NSAS funding;

b)         $5.65M from a previously identified SmartBus project that will now be incorporated into the Clever Devices’ platform;

c)         $1.6M savings within IO 905146 (Bus Growth); and

d)         $3.03M savings within IO 905205 (Bus Replacement).




Que le Comité du transport en commun recommande au Conseil d’approuver :


1.         Le déploiement de deux caractéristiques propres aux autobus intelligents offertes comme options « valeur ajoutée » par la société Clever Devices, fournisseur du Système d’annonce des arrêts.

2.         Un budget de 17 M$ pour le projet d’immobilisation de 2009 – Système d’information sur les véhicule de transport en commun, qui ne nécessite pas de nouveaux crédits et comprend :


a)         6,72 M$ en crédits déjà autorisés par le Conseil pour le Système d’annonce des arrêts;

b)         5,65 M$ en crédits réservés à un projet d’autobus intelligents déjà établi, qui sera intégré à la plate-forme fournie par la société Clever Devices;

c)         1,6 M$ d’épargnes trouvées au poste budgétaire IO 905146 (Expansion du service d’autobus);

d)         3,03 M$ d’épargnes trouvées au poste busdgétaire IO 905205 (remplacement d’autobus).





At this time, there is a pressing need to implement an automated stop-calling system on the OC Transpo fleet.


Transit Services’ continuation of the SmartBus program is designed to take advantage of advancements in technology relating to public transit, which will significantly improve the customer experience.


Requiring no additional funds, Transit Services wishes to deploy a transit-proven technology platform that will include a Next Stop Automatic System (NSAS), as well as a number of capabilities that will create efficiencies for both the customer and the City of Ottawa. 


This approach will allow Transit Services to implement a NSAS and take advantage of other valuable technologies provided by Clever Devices.  This proposal will also provide a flexible platform on which future technologies can be quickly and efficiently integrated.


Improved customer service, greater bus reliability and availability, and a long-term technology solution is what Transit Services seeks with this report.  Importantly, the cost to fund this solution can be found within existing envelopes and will create a zero tax pressure for the residents of Ottawa.




In 1998, KPMG/IBI Group was commissioned to conduct the OC Transpo Comprehensive Review to identify challenges in providing excellent customer service and opportunities for improvements throughout the system.  Smart operating systems (later referred to as “SmartBus”) were singled out as an exceptionally effective and efficient method of increasing the fleet’s reliability, while providing a multitude of ways to increase customer confidence in the system itself.  By leveraging technology used in the operation and deployment of buses via a Global Positioning System (GPS), customers could benefit from real-time communication.


At the time of SmartBus deployment the plan called for in-house development of the solution (with partners), as these technologies were in their infancy.  This plan included customer service and communication components. Transit Services has adopted several of the recommendations outlined in the study, and stakeholders have perceived an improvement in the customer experience related to control.  Unfortunately, there have been obstacles in developing and implementing the components that are the most relevant and that have the greatest impact on the customer experience. 


The City of Ottawa does not have the financial resources, nor the expertise, required to design and produce the required real-time communication components that are currently commonplace in the transit market.  In addition, key hardware components within the existing SmartBus capabilities have reached end-of-life status and are no longer available from their respective manufacturers.  These components include the transfer printer, the wireless cellular modem and the mobile data terminal.


The piece-meal approach, over a long period of time, for this initiative has resulted in lost opportunities, with an increase in projected cost and timelines for delivering the SmartBus products.  The system required to fully implement a technology-based solution for our customers exists in “turnkey formats” that have been implemented and tested in current transit markets.  The City now has the opportunity to capitalize on one such system.


The requirement for a next-stop announcement system (NSAS) at Transit Services was brought to the forefront by a 2007 order by the Ontario Human’s Rights Commission to the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to have all stops announced on board their vehicles.  The City of Ottawa received a similar order through the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA).


Automatic next stop announcement is one of many communication components that would improve the customers’ ability to confidently navigate through the transit system and throughout the City.  Market research also confirms that almost 30 per cent of infrequent users find a large system, such as OC Transpo, difficult to use.  In the 2008 Capital Budget, $6.72M was approved to acquire an automated announcement system for Transit Services buses.


The original budget was defined based on information gathered from the TTC, which has implemented similar technologies but includes NSAS capability only.  Furthermore, the TTC project was completed in-house, which significantly reduced the cost of their project.


In 2008, Transit Services created a project team with a defined scope of acquiring the NSAS technology from a company with proven experience in transit applications.  As such, the selected acquisition strategy was to follow a three-stage framework.  Stages 1 and 2 involved a Request For Qualification (RFQ) from potential proponents outlining their proposed solutions and technology.


Through a Request For Proposal (RFP) process, proponents that qualified for Stage 3 were evaluated for experience, project implementation planning, resources, value-added elements, and cost (financial).


Four proponents responded to the City’s RFQ.  Two proponents were dismissed as non-compliant to the qualification requirements.  Two proponents were given the opportunity to submit proposals through an RFP.  One of the two proponents was disqualified at this stage after presenting an alternate unqualified partner/vendor in the RFP.


The remaining qualified proponent, Clever Devices Ltd., was requested to submit a best and final offer (BAFO) for its NSAS, as well as for additional related system capabilities of interest to Transit Services.




The focus on implementing new technology solutions for the City’s transit fleet is advancing and improving customer service.  In comparison to other transit agencies in cities of similar size throughout the world, Ottawa’s development of technology-based solutions has lagged behind.  While the City was resolved to build in-house solutions with limited capabilities over a long period of time, transit-specific software to address customers’ demands are now readily available and proven in real markets.


An automated NSAS is not a stand-alone solution; it requires a platform that has a number of integrated technology applications, including a robust and advanced GPS.  The extent to which new technology can be added to the system is reliant on the capability of the platform.  During the RFP process, staff discovered that the Clever Devices’ proposal would provide Transit Services with several transit-proven modularized capabilities, well beyond that of NSAS, which could be acquired and deployed as turnkey solutions onto their platform.


Clever Devices offers several additional modules that can directly impact and enhance the customer experience by providing tools to manage bus reliability, real-time communication and SmartCard integration.




·           GPS interface provides a historical comparison between scheduled times and actual arrival times at all bus stops.  This allows staff to analyze drive times in specific areas so that more accurate schedules can be produced and bus deployment throughout the system is more consistent with the planned schedule.  Analysis can be fed back into the system on a regular basis for continuous improvement in system design and bus stop planning.  The result is greater realized efficiency and improved reliability of service for customers.


·            Maintenance interface provides rapid diagnosis of mechanical problems, assistance to preventive maintenance scheduling, and real-time vehicle health condition to better manage deployed assets.  This leads to a faster return of equipment back into service.  Increased fleet reliability increases efficiencies by reducing the cancellation of trips and improving bus availability.




·           Real-time information regarding actual bus locations would be available for customers via multiple sources including the Internet, portable wireless devices  (PDA’s) and electronic signage at stations.


·            Bilingual next stop announcements of all bus stops in auditory and visual formats so that customers can be aware of where they are in the transit system and in the city itself.


·           Next bus announcement that is activated upon bus doors opening for waiting passengers and that communicates the written message or destination on the curtain signage via an auditory message.


·           On board public service announcements that deliver operational messages on behalf of the driver and that can be customized to deliver messages that are route-specific, day specific and location specific.


·           On board emergency messages that are coordinated with external emergency events, including amber alerts and other security issues that can be immediately activated, or activated at a specific time of day.




·            Presto’s SmartCard system requires a wireless network interface, which could potentially use the same wireless platform used for all the Clever Devices’ modules.  This would reduce the set-up and maintenance cost of establishing a wireless platform for SmartCard, as it would co-exist with that of Clever Devices through its multi-purpose modem.


·           Clever Devices’ software has an “open-architecture” that allows simplified interface with other compatible software, such as Presto’s SmartCard.  This reduces the additional cost of creating an interface with existing hardware with proprietary conditions, such as our current platform.


Clever Devices - Partnerships


Clever Devices also offers a complete suite of applications that have been identified as future Transit Service projects under the SmartBus program.  Implementing the platform at this stage would create significant cost-efficiencies in the long-term, as well as provide the opportunity to move forward on identified future projects at a faster rate. 


In searching for a robust solution, the City’s project team identified the need to find a partner that had significant transit experience.  Clever Devices has worked with transit providers from across North America, including the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).


The CTA, for example, operates the Clever Devices’ NSAS platform on approximately 2,000 buses.  The platform provides NSAS and real-time bus arrival information at major stations.  As well, an Internet-based bus arrival information system is accessible to any passenger who uses an Internet capable device such as desktops and handheld PDAs.  When CTA deployed this capability, they observed a 10 per cent increase in ridership.  For the City of Ottawa, an increase in ridership of five per cent, for example, represents an increase in revenue of approximately $7 million.


CTA uses the information gathered through the Clever Devices’ platform on a daily basis to manage bus headways and run-times, thereby, allowing on-road supervisors to positively influence the deployed service using real-time information.  The vehicle health monitoring system allowed CTA to increase bus availability by five per cent, and allowed the maintenance organization to convert from reactive to proactive operations.  For Transit Services, a $50M reduction in bus acquisitions was committed as part of the 2009 Capital Budget submission, based in part on the introduction of this technology.  Transit Services Report, Review of Bus Fleet Maintenance Standards and Processes (ACS2009-ICS-TRA-0001) identified development of technology as necessary to reach higher asset performed levels.




The SmartBus project calls for the installation of the Clever Devices’ NSAS and other capabilities on all low-floor accessible buses and new buses, which represents over 75 per cent of the fleet, and which conforms with Council's commitment to providing accessible transit to the community.


All other buses are high-floor and equipped with sub-standard destination signs (electronic or mechanical) and vehicle electronic control modules that cannot interface with the NSAS without additional modifications.  These other buses are also subject to retirement in the next six to seven years, including 70 buses this year alone.  Older buses are deployed at peak hours to support high volumes of passengers and would not be assigned to regular daytime routes.  Bus operators would continue to call out stops until such time as the NSAS can be installed and/or new buses with NSAS are integrated into the fleet. 


Planned Implementation and Installation of NSAS





2012 to 2014



NSAS Installations






Fleet size



1131 to 1193



% of NSAS equipped buses








(1) 27% of the fleet will not be initially equipped in 2010 because of incompatible technology.

(2) 1997 and 1998 buses are not technologically compatible with NSAS and do not retire until 2015-16, at which time 100% of fleet will become NSAS equipped.




The best and final offer (BAFO) received from Clever Devices for installation of next stop announcement capability on the existing accessible fleet of 766 low-floor buses, excluding the hybrid buses, is $12.0M.  This amount includes taxes, current exchange rate and a five per cent contingency for U.S.-CA. dollar fluctuations.  Two vendor value-added options for the SmartBus capabilities - bus time arrival information and vehicular system condition monitoring - add  $5.0M for a total project requirement of $17.0M.  The approved authority for NSAS is $6.72M.


An existing 2009 Capital Project for Transit Vehicle Information System was approved to add an on-board router to manage the multiple upcoming features of the SmartBus program.  The Clever Devices added-value options will deliver equivalent technology; therefore, the Capital Budget of $5.65M assigned to this project will be used to acquire the Clever Devices’ added-value features, which is within existing authority.


The active bus replacement and growth projects (IO 900874, 903960, 905146 and 905205), under which all 177 new Orion VII low-floor hybrid buses are being purchased, will fund the purchase and installation of the Clever Devices systems on these buses for $3.93M, which is within existing authorities.  When deliveries are completed for the Orion VII in 2010, approximately 90 per cent of the fleet will be deemed accessible and equipped with the Clever Devices capabilities. 


The differential of $4.63M between all existing authorities in the various fleet or SmartBus projects will be generated by transferring funds obtained as efficiencies in the bus replacement and growth capital accounts (IO 905146 and 905205) and transferred to the Transit Vehicle Information System Project (IO 905203), which includes NSAS.


The efficiencies achieved in the bus acquisition projects stem from two sources:


·           The projects were budgeted at a time when the Canadian dollar was valued at $0.85 U.S. (Spring 2007).  The multi-year contract was bid and approved at a time when the Canadian dollar was at par with the U.S. dollar (Winter 2008), representing a financial efficiency of 15 per cent; and


·           The best value bid process used at the end of 2007 to acquire the hybrid technology saw strong competition between the Canadian bus manufacturers and the hybrid system suppliers.  The unit cost for the base bus, without hybridization, was almost $50,000 less than the previous 40-foot bus procured in 2003.


The following transfers to IO 904546, totaling $4.63M in efficiencies, are required to acquire the Clever Devices systems with its three integrated capabilities (NSAS, bus arrival information and vehicle system monitoring) on a single platform:


·           905146 Bus Growth, $1.6M

·           905205 Bus Replacement, $3.03M


By using the existing Council-approved, within the existing delegated authority, $6.7M, the $5.6M assigned to the new router project, and the $4.63M for the efficiencies found in the Bus Growth and Bus Replacement accounts, the end result is a zero budget pressure to implement the Clever Devices SmartBus features.




The proposal to proceed with the Clever Devices’ technology platform requires no new funding.


Transit Services believes that proceeding with the Clever Devices’ platform provides the City with the best cost-effective long-term solution, which includes addressing the commitment to provide NSAS for the customers of OC Transpo.


The platform will also provide Transit Services with a robust technology solution to improve bus reliability, availability and maintenance.  The platform will also provide a foundation with which to initiate new projects that were originally scheduled many years down the road. 


As a result, Transit Services will realize significant efficiencies, while providing customers with a more effective service.




No consultation required.




For the reasons set out hereafter, currently there are no legal/risk management impediments to implementing the recommendations in the report.  The City Clerk and Legal Services Branch was consulted by Supply Management prior to one of two proponents being disqualified after it presented its invited proposal to the City’s Request for Proposal (“RFP”).  The Branch concurred with the recommended approach taken on the matter by Supply Management.  Subsequently, the Branch was also made aware of the exchange of correspondence between the lawyer for the disqualified proponent and Supply Management on the matter.  Four months have elapsed since that time and there have been no further concerns expressed to the Branch.


Consequently, although there may potentially be some risk of a challenge to the process by the disqualified proponent as the City moves forward with this matter, nevertheless, based on information known at this time by the City Clerk and Legal Services Branch, it is not considered to be significant or well founded.  As per the practice of Supply Management, when the procurement process is completed all unsuccessful proponents will be invited to attend a formal de-briefing of their proposal evaluation.




The additional required capital authority for this recommendation of $4.63M is available for transfer from projects 905146 ($1.6M) and 905205 ($3.03M).




Subject to approval of this report, Financial Services will transfer the authorities between the recommended internal order capital accounts.


Financial Services will proceed, as recommended by Transit Services, with contract award to Clever Devices for procurement of the NSAS with bus arrival time and vehicular systems condition monitoring capabilities.