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January 2, 2005

TVs on way to local trains and buses

From: North County Times, CA - Jan 2, 2005

By: PAUL SISSON - Staff Writer

OCEANSIDE --- Televisions will soon begin appearing on local trains and buses.

For starters, the North County Transit district will install special flat-panel monitors on two of its Breeze buses and one of its Coaster trains in February to test passenger reaction to a new information system that will likely be installed on every bus and train in San Diego County.

The system, run by a company called Transit Television Network, will use sound and pictures to tell passengers what stop is next and where exactly the bus or train is on its appointed route. In addition, the system will broadcast a one-hour video loop of news, sports and other entertainment. That hour of entertainment will include 18 minutes of commercials.

The transit district will receive the equipment for free and will receive a percentage of the advertising revenue the system generates.

Brian Graham, the district's manager of operations, said the system is a cheap way for local public transportation to get automatic stop information that is useful to disabled riders --- especially those who are either deaf or blind.

"It's one less thing the driver has to worry about," Graham said.

He added that the demonstration project will be used to gauge passenger reaction to the system before it is rolled out on all of the district's buses and trains. The district's board of directors would have to vote to install the televisions systemwide.

Passengers on buses will be able to turn down the volume on the monitors but will not be able to silence them entirely. Each Coaster train with the system installed would have the sound disabled in its last car to create a quiet zone for passengers who do not wish to be distracted by continuous updates, news briefs and advertisements.

Graham said the system could generate between $20,000 and $40,000 in revenue in its first year of operation and much more in subsequent years. He said, however, that that money would be spread among all transit districts in the county, including the much larger Metropolitan Transit System in San Diego.

At a committee meeting last week, Karen King, the district's executive director, said installing the network should not be seen as a financial windfall.

"I don't think that it should be viewed as very much of a revenue generator, because the amount of money it will generate is really pretty insignificant," King said.

She added that the system's ability to provide constant location information and next stop announcements to passengers is its true strength.

"It really is an information tool more that anything else," she said.

Other cities have already installed the Transit Television Network including: Orlando, Fla.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Chicago, Ill.; Norfolk, Va.; and Atlanta, Ga. The Los Angles transportation system is in the process of installing the system as well.

Contact staff writer Paul Sisson at (760) 901-4087 or

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