Digitalization in Public Transport

Opportunities, Technological Requirements and Implementation of Digital Systems in Public Transport Vehicles

The future belongs to local public transport, which has the full potential to provide the answer to our society’s mobility problems. Digital technologies are helping to exploit this potential at all levels. Most transport companies have already recognized this and are therefore actively working to improve their services and processes with the help of digital systems. Providing attractive offers and services, opening up new sources of revenue and services, optimizing driving operations – transport operators and passengers alike benefit from digitalization. International, uniform standards and Ethernet technology create the necessary bridge to help transport operators arrive faster in the digital world.

Opportunities for Public Transport Through Digitalization

Increase Passenger Satisfaction

Mobility is a basic need and public transport is probably the best answer to it. Particularly in conurbations and metropolitan areas, buses, urban trains and subways represent the backbone of mobility. Digitalization has the potential to strengthen the role of public transportation in the long term and thereby contribute to both the mobility needs and the environmental protection goals of our society. After all, thanks to digitalization and networking, local public transport is becoming increasingly popular. New, flexible (sharing) services ensure that the gap in the “last mile” is closed and make public transport more attractive. Integrated, multimodal platforms that provide better and faster information as well as simple payment systems are just some of the benefits that make public transportation more convenient than ever before.

  • Location data provides information about the punctuality of the vehicle as well as current connection options.
  • Occupancy data is determined in real time and made immediately available to passengers so that they can organize their journey as comfortably as possible.
  • Contactless payment by card or smartphone ensures stress-free travel, even across fare boundaries.
  • Networked video surveillance offers passengers more security in the vehicle.
  • Passenger Wi-Fi is highly appreciated on buses and trains, especially for longer journeys.


Developing Transport Operators Beyond the Pure Transport Service

Efficient route planning and optimal fleet management are easier to realize for transport companies thanks to live data from digitized line vehicles. It also opens up opportunities for transport operators to evolve into platform and service companies. This requires the timely establishment of digital platforms in order to make all of the company’s services and mobility services accessible in a smart and simple way. The key to success: contact with customers and responsible handling of their data.

The benefits of digitalization for transport operators at a glance:

  • Optimize line planning based on occupancy data over time.
  • Fleet management to coordinate maintenance work on vehicles.
  • Optimal vehicle dispatching so that each vehicle deployed can serve passengers in the best possible way.
  • Optimize drivers’ driving characteristics to save fuel or provide a more pleasant driving experience.
  • Video data is always and immediately available when needed.
  • Strategic networking with other sectors such as energy supply opens up new business opportunities


Technological Requirements for Digitalization in Public Transport

During their daily journey on public transportation, passengers on buses, subways and streetcars interact with a variety of systems. These range from up-to-the-minute departure schedules on cell phones, line displays, ticket vending machines and contactless validators to on-screen displays and stop notifications. But how are these systems coordinated so that passengers can experience a smooth ride? In other words: How do these systems exchange data with each other and what is the technology behind it?

Ethernet: The Standard for Modern Data Networks

The greatest challenge of digitalization is probably to make large volumes of data manageable. Data should be exchanged quickly, efficiently and according to fixed standards. In addition, the networking of a large number of participants from different locations should be considered. This requires an efficient network infrastructure.

To meet the requirements of such complex data networks, the IEEE802.3 network standard, better known as Ethernet, has established itself in recent decades. The standard enjoys great popularity primarily because of its robustness, scalability, bandwidth and degree of standardization. Standardization not only includes fixed specifications for transmission, but also ensures a wide range of compatible devices, cables and connectors.

Ethernet-based network solutions are particularly favored in buses, streetcars and subways. Almost all vehicles have a router with a wireless connection to the central control center. This is where all the data on the entire urban traffic system converges. In the control center, this data is synchronized, updated and passed on to passengers via displays in the vehicles. The basic prerequisite for this is the networking of all systems in the vehicles. But how is this achieved?

Layers of Device Communication

A network represents a connection of multiple devices that share the same infrastructure and resources and communicate via the network protocol. The communication takes place in several layers. The OSI model (Open Systems Interconnection) illustrates this layer division and defines seven layers. 

Ethernet Layers

The Ethernet standard is defined by the first two layers: Layer 1 and Layer 2. Layer 1 defines the physical transmission (optical fiber, copper wire) and is called “physical layer”. The signal transmission takes place, for example, via twisted pairs (TP). Layer 2 provides connection and is called “data link layer”.

To keep data transmission largely error-free, the data is divided into blocks. Such data blocks are also called (Ethernet) frames. Layer 2 is also assigned the MAC (Media Access Control) – known to the user as the “MAC address”. This address is used to address the network nodes on Layer 2. A MAC address is unique worldwide and is often attached to the device and used for device identification.

The Ethernet Switch as an Intermediary in Device Communication

In public transport vehicles, various nodes must be integrated into a higher-level network. These can be cameras for monitoring in the passenger compartment or passenger information and counting systems. Furthermore, video recorders, the central vehicle control system, routers and payment systems are typical participants in public transport vehicles. In many cases, more than 20 devices have to be networked together on buses. This is done with the help of Ethernet switches specially developed for public transport vehicles. They are used as a data switch and have different properties depending on requirements and use.

From a technical point of view, these are layer 2 switches. On the one hand, a layer 2 Ethernet switch connects the network nodes on layer 1 and, on the other hand, ensures that the data on layer 2 is transmitted without errors. To do this, the switch stores the received data frames and forwards them after determining the destination MAC address. This technology is also known as “store and forward”.

How Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Switches Send and Receive Data

In modern switches, data processing takes place directly in the hardware. The processing time takes place in the nanosecond range, so the resulting delay (latency) is usually negligible for most applications (µs/ms range). Data bit rates of 100Mbit/s (Fast Ethernet) and 1Gbit/s (Gigabit) are most commonly encountered as transmission speeds. Both Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet support full-duplex transmission. This means that data is sent and received in both directions simultaneously. Fast Ethernet uses one twisted pair each for transmitting (TX) and receiving (RX) and thus a total of four wires. Gigabit Ethernet uses four twisted pairs and thus eight wires. With Gigabit Ethernet, each pair is used bidirectionally.


The Infrastructure for Digitalization: Open and Ethernet-based

The use of Ethernet-based standards such as ITxPT is a key success factor for the implementation of digital technologies in the public transport industry. Thanks to open IT architecture and interoperability between IT systems based on standardization, IT components in buses and trains are compatible with all systems and ready for immediate use. For transport companies, standardization manifests itself in vendor independence and a wider choice of components, which ultimately leads to cost reductions.

The Network Architecture From Design to Operation

The necessary networking in buses and trains is achieved by M12 Ethernet switches, as also specified by ITxPT. M12 refers to the port type. With a broad product portfolio of M12 Ethernet switches, TRONTEQ ensures intelligent IP networking in public transport – the basis on which all functions and systems are built. The ROQSTAR Ethernet switch product family is an expression of our commitment to modern and open technologies and standards in public transport. All ROQSTAR M12 Ethernet switches from TRONTEQ are tested and labeled by ITxPT.

Furthermore, we see ourselves as a partner at the side of transport companies. We work hand-in-hand with transport operators to optimally address their needs and help them get the most out of technology. Whether through expertise or personal consulting, or by developing and providing tools and solutions for IP networks, TRONTEQ strives to add value to its customers through its products at every stage of network design for both buses and streetcars.

Let’s Get Started!

Supporting you in the implementation of standardized IP networks is our mission. Contact us now and we will advise you on your project without obligation.

Juri Martinevski

Juri Martinevski

Our products are fundamental for the digitalization in public transport. ROQSTAR M12 Ethernet Switches provide the network infrastructure for e-ticketing, passenger counting systems (PCS), dynamic passenger information (DPI) and closed-circuit television (CCTV).


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