PTIS (GPS Tracking) On The Commuter Rail Discussion

Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

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Re: PTIS (GPS Tracking) On The Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby StefanW » Wed May 15, 2013 9:14 pm

This is slightly off-topic because it's not completely related to PTIS / GPS, but it is about real-time data and tracking...

I just finished another update to my train mapping app which fully integrates the live data feed from the North Station & South Station departure boards. (also nostalgically called Solari boards) Now my app will list the status ("Now Boarding", "All Aboard", etc.) for all departures. If it's a trip which doesn't have any GPS position, it will be listed under the section "trains for which the MBTA is not getting and/or sending position data" which you can show/hide as you like.

I have a question for you all... Would you like it if I could use the departure track number to make the train location even more accurate?

Here's my idea... If I can get the exact GPS locations of each North Station and South Station track - close to the bumpers - then when the Solari board says "Track 4" I would ignore the coach PTIS GPS position and instead map the train based on the actual location of that track. I've noticed the PTIS GPS positions aren't very good when the control coach's GPS antenna can't get a clear sky view because it's underneath the Garden at North Station for example.

What do you think?
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Re: PTIS (GPS Tracking) On The Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby StefanW » Thu May 16, 2013 6:04 pm

Right now I'm aboard a train trip which doesn't show any position or arrival prediction data, and in addition there's no PTIS announcements over the PA. I asked the Conductor if the PTIS was logged in OK (so I might be able to figure out where the disconnect is) and their answer was "The PTIS is always logged in." I've heard otherwise from other Conductors.

What's the reality of the PTIS equipment? Is it supposed to be completely automatic and hands-off, but sometimes it flakes out? Or, does it always require manual logging-in for a trip and sometimes the crew forgets? Or, is it something in-between or a completely different situation?
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Re: PTIS (GPS Tracking) On The Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby KB1KVD » Thu May 16, 2013 6:45 pm

The system require manual logging in for the start of each trip. The control point of the system is up in the electrical cabinet on the control coaches. One of the issues that seems to often occur is the circuit breakers popping on the units,which causes the system not to report.
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Re: PTIS (GPS Tracking) On The Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby sery2831 » Fri May 17, 2013 1:10 am

I noticed the same thing today as well. I had the 1637 on train #339. It was calling the stops on board(in a few of the 7 cars but not all), but it was not reporting on your site or my Conductor Companion. The signs were reporting us as arriving as well.
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Re: PTIS (GPS Tracking) On The Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby BenH » Sun Jun 23, 2013 5:21 pm

Does anyone have any idea if/when the MBTA will including the CapeFLYER in the Commuter Rail data feed? This train currently operates with an engine at each end which I understand could mean that there is no PTIS GPS unit on this train since the units are located in the cab coaches (I could of course be wrong about this!)

It would be very nice to be able to track this particular train since it can easily be delayed at the Cape Cod canal if the bridge cannot be lowered due to marine traffic in the canal.
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Re: PTIS (GPS Tracking) On The Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby sery2831 » Mon Jun 24, 2013 11:21 am

The Cape Flyer is a regular set with the special coach and an extra loco added. So it does have a control car. They have special 90XX train numbers programmed into all the PTIS units for the service.
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Re: PTIS (GPS Tracking) On The Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby diburning » Mon Jun 24, 2013 2:56 pm

The stop announcements are done by the "Crystal" voice while the additional announcements such as bus connections at Buzzards Bay and Hyannis, as well as ferry connections are done by the Mr Monopoly voice.
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Re: PTIS (GPS Tracking) On The Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby BenH » Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:37 pm

BenH wrote:Does anyone have any idea if/when the MBTA will including the CapeFLYER in the Commuter Rail data feed?


I posed the same question to the development group at the MBTA and in their reply they said, "The Cape Flyer is absent because it’s not an MBTA service per se; however yours is not the first request to include it with our data and we will evaluate whether it would be practical to do so."

Yes, the CapeFLYER trains are technically not MBTA commuter trains since they are operated by the MBTA as special trains for the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority. But... it would make lots of sense to include these trains in the MBTA's real-time data feed since they operate from South Station, use MBTA equipment, and serve riders who are most likely regular MBTA customers.
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Re: PTIS (GPS Tracking) On The Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby MBTA1016 » Sun Jul 14, 2013 10:45 pm

I was just on the link Stephan provided to his app, two things. 1. Better then original version and 2. The cape flyer line is on it extending from middleboro to the cape. Nice work Stefan.
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Re: PTIS (GPS Tracking) On The Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby StefanW » Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:49 pm

Anyone know if PTIS data will go out for the Patriots game trains to Gillette? I'm not optimistic that it will, since we don't get it for the Cape Flyer. (I'm asking the same question on the app developers' forum.)

Also - are there assigned train / trip numbers for the Patriots trains?

I save all the PTIS data that goes out in the feed, so during & after the game day trains I'll be analyzing it for any tell-tales that might hint at those trips even if they don't explicitly show up.
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Re: PTIS (GPS Tracking) On The Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby StefanW » Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:42 pm

BenH wrote:
BenH wrote:Does anyone have any idea if/when the MBTA will including the CapeFLYER in the Commuter Rail data feed?


I posed the same question to the development group at the MBTA and in their reply they said, "The Cape Flyer is absent because it’s not an MBTA service per se; however yours is not the first request to include it with our data and we will evaluate whether it would be practical to do so."

Yes, the CapeFLYER trains are technically not MBTA commuter trains since they are operated by the MBTA as special trains for the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority. But... it would make lots of sense to include these trains in the MBTA's real-time data feed since they operate from South Station, use MBTA equipment, and serve riders who are most likely regular MBTA customers.


Breaking news!!! The CapeFlyer is now in the data feed!! As I type this (8:40 PM Eastern time) Train 9002 has just departed Hyannis on a trip to South Station.

You can now find & follow it on my app!
http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~wuensch/T/live-train-map-beta.html?train=9002

The folks at the MBTA department that runs the train data feed told me they were working on a bug fix related to the weekend datafeed outages that happened every Friday before 8PM since early August. I suspected it was related to CapeFlyer because that's something unusual (or at least new this season) that happens every Friday evening. It seems I was right!
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Re: PTIS (GPS Tracking) On The Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby BenH » Fri Sep 27, 2013 5:06 pm

Stefan,

Thank you for your wonderful app and your efforts to get the MBTA to include the CapeFLYER in their real-time datafeed.

As some may know, in the Hyannis Transportation Center there is a large flat screen display that shows the location of all CCRTA buses on the Cape. It now also includes the location of the CapeFLYER, which of course will be very helpful for anyone waiting for the train.

The CCRTA's bus/train display can be view on this link:
http://geolabvirtualmaps.com/CCRTAMultiModal.aspx
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Re: PTIS (GPS Tracking) On The Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby mbcrvictim » Wed Oct 02, 2013 1:15 pm

The manner in which this system is currently being operated has become completely ridiculous and inappropriate. Over the past year, the number of announcements being made onboard trains has nearly doubled, and the system this week started spewing obnoxious advertisements for a smartphone ticketing app. We are now at the point where this system has nothing to do with ADA compliance, and is becoming abusive to passengers. MBTA needs to listen to customers and give us a reasonable atmosphere for our daily commute. Having a datafeed of train locations is fine; however, we need to get the number of corresponding PA announcements on the trains cut back significantly. Who is responsible for the operation of this system at MBTA and how do we get this done? I am not the only passenger who is completely fed up with this system.
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Re: PTIS (GPS Tracking) On The Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby sery2831 » Wed Oct 02, 2013 10:07 pm

This system is controlled by the MBTA Railroad operations and has nothing to do with MBCR. I agree the Smart Phone App COMMERCIAL is over the top and way too much. I thought they learned after the back lash about picking up your trash announcement. So many people complained about it they took it out of the system. On the Fitchburg they use the system to announce the weekend cut backs, that's using the system correctly. As far as ADA compliance they keep missing they are REQUIRED to announce connecting service, and do not.

Welcome mbcrvictim, just a side note here... Venting is alright, but complaints should be taken directly up with the MBTA. This is a forum focused on the hobby and technical side of the system.
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Re: PTIS (GPS Tracking) On The Commuter Rail Discussion

Postby octr202 » Thu Oct 03, 2013 6:48 am

Really unfortunate that they pulled the Quiet Car announcements as well, only to find all these new ones popping up.
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