T3 Webinar Overview

Keep It Real: Real-Time Transit Traveler Information Systems – 511, Social Media, and More

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Date:   June 13, 2013
Time:  1:00 PM – 2:30 PM ET
Cost:  All T3 webinars are free of charge
PDH:  1.5   View PDH Policy

T3 Webinars are brought to you by the ITS Professional Capacity Building Program (ITS PCB) at the U.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT) ITS Joint Program Office, Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA). Reference in this webinar to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public, and does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by U.S. Department of Transportation.


The growing popularity of mobile devices able to provide on-demand, just-in-time, personalized traveler information is changing the public's expectations for how transportation agencies communicate with customers and deliver services. Travelers who are able to access real-time data on traffic congestion, transit schedules, or transit arrivals are able to make more informed decisions and adjust travel plans “on the fly” by using online travel planners, mobile device applications, electronic signs, and other technologies. This webinar will feature speakers from a range of agencies discussing the costs and benefits of real-time transit traveler information systems; describing the challenges, successes, and future direction of traveler information systems; and sharing various uses of apps and social media to deliver traveler information.


Lawrence Harman, Project Manager for the Cape Cod Mobility Management Technology Project, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts will discuss the current development of inter-regional web-mapping applications that focus on intermodal real-time traveler information between the Boston metropolitan area for tourist travel to Cape Cod and the offshore islands. Modal real-time vehicle locations include inter-city bus, inter-city rail and all passenger ferries on Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound connecting with regional transit on Cape Cod. In addition, he will present progress on the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority's “e-Kiosk” smart phone applications providing trip planning and navigating tools including real-time user and vehicle location, next scheduled bus from every stop, real-time web mapping displays and estimated time of arrival predictions. Capabilities include emergency connections for family and care givers for individuals with disabilities navigating the regional transit system. For more information see: www.geolabvirtualmaps.com.

Walter K. Lenz, Safety, Training and Security Manager and Cyndi Raskin-Schmitt, Manager of Communications from Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, St. Petersburg, Florida will discuss the technology features and implementation of the agency's real-time bus information system, opportunities and challenges, as well as marketing the real-time system, social media and smart phone applications, and system usage statistics. For more information see: http://www.psta.net/realtime.php.

Nisar Ahmed, Program Coordinator for the 511 San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission in Oakland, California will offer a regional perspective on the delivery of real-time traveler information through the 511 service, including delivery of data to regional transit hubs and other displays; regional transit information delivery architecture and open data sharing protocol; and lessons learned. For more information see: http://511.org/.

Learning Objectives

This webinar will:

  • Offer an overview of traveler information systems and the technology products and services used by different transportation agencies.
  • Provide an understanding of the benefits of various technologies and services for regional traveler information providers and transit agencies and customers.
  • Identify challenges experienced by agencies regarding the implementation and use of traveler information technologies, social media platforms, and the future direction of these technologies.

Target Audience

  • Transit and traveler information managers, consultants, vendors, academia, government officials, including local, state, federal and DOT, and any other individuals or entities involved in the design, deployment, purchase, or evaluation of ITS and traveler information technologies.
  • Those wanting to learn more about social media, state-of-the art technologies, and costs of traveler information systems.


Charlene Wilder, Transportation Management Specialist, Federal Transit Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, (Washington, D.C.)

photograph of Charlene Wilder

Ms. Wilder has served as a Transportation Management Specialist for the Federal Transit Administration, in Washington, D.C., since 1996. She manages Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Projects for the Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation. Her areas of expertise include open data guidelines for transit; rural ITS coordination; advanced technologies for populations with disabilities; traveler information systems, including 511 and real-time information systems. Ms. Wilder earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Troy State University and a Master of Arts Degree from Central Michigan University.

Ms. Wilder previously served as the Federal host for the following T-3 Webinars:

  • Findings and Lessons Learned from an Evaluation of Advanced Parking Management Systems for Transit;
  • How to Implement the Time Table Publisher: An Open Source Application for Transit Agencies;
  • Public Transit ITS Data Collection and Analysis – Large and Small Agency Lessons Learned; Core Suite of ITS Technologies for Transit Agencies; and,
  • Deployment Lessons from Washoe County and Central Florida/Polk County.


Lawrence Harman, Project Manager for the Cape Cod Mobility Management Technology Project, (Cape Cod, Massachusetts)

photograph of Lawrence Harman

Mr. Harman is the managing partner of Harman Consulting LLC and Founder and Co-Director of the Geographic's Laboratory at Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, Massachusetts. He has more than 40 years' experience in transit planning, policy, operations, and research in the public and private sector.

Nisar Ahmed, Program Coordinator, San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission, (Oakland, California)

photograph of Nisar Ahmed

Mr. Ahmed is a Program Coordinator for the 511 San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Oakland, California. Educated as a civil engineer, Mr. Ahmed developed his career in the field of traveler information. Mr. Ahmed is currently focused on developing an open data collection and dissemination specification for 511 systems.

Before joining MTC to work on the 511 program in 2007, Nisar Ahmed worked as a project manager at a consulting company developing regional transit information systems. He was the main architect and database designer for the first regional transit information system in the Francisco Bay Area that was later branded as the '511 Transit' component of the Bay Area 511 system.

Cyndi Raskin-Schmitt, Manager of Communications, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, (St. Petersburg, Florida)

photograph of Cyndi Raskin-Schmitt

Cyndi Raskin-Schmitt is the Manager of Communications at the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has been in the public transit industry for 15 years, and was a member of the management team responsible for introducing a Real-Time Bus Information system at PSTA. She also manages PSTA's social media presence, and was integral in launching a very profitable bus advertising program. Ms. Raskin-Schmitt is currently involved in helping reshape the future of PSTA's bus network with an agency-wide comprehensive system review, which includes extensive public outreach efforts.

Walter (Walt) K. Lenz, Safety, Training and Security Manager, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, (St. Petersburg, Florida)

photograph of Walt Lenz

Mr. Walter K. Lenz has been the Safety, Training and Security Manager at Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) since March 2009. He is responsible for the overall security and safety of the transit authority. Mr. Lenz is the project manager of PSTA's new Real-Time Bus Information project.

Mr. Lenz represents PSTA with the Pinellas County Emergency Management and is associated with Florida Operation Network (FON), a group of transit agency managers and the Center for Urban Transit Research (CUTR) that addresses transit concerns and develops training programs and procedures.

Originally from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Mr. Lenz graduated from high school in 1970 and served honorably in the U.S. Marine Corps. He joined PSTA in 1990 as a Bus Operator and was promoted to Transportation Supervisor. He held the position as Transportation Manager for over ten years before being promoted to his current position as Safety, Training and Security Manager.