Automatic Passenger Counting: How to Prevent System Failures
14 Feb, 2022

The desire for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way of life is making public transportation increasingly important. The more attractive buses and trains are, the easier it is to convince passengers to use public transportation. One important aspect of this is vehicle occupancy. Public transport operators that rely on intelligent passenger counting can more easily organize the scheduling of their fleet and pass on congestion data to their passengers. In this article, we’ll look at the importance of automated passenger counting systems and how you can keep them operating with as little downtime as possible.

Ensuring the Economic Efficiency of Public Transport with Passenger Counting Systems

In order to ensure the economic viability of public transportation, it is of great importance to know how many passengers are boarding buses and trains today and tomorrow. In this way, public transport operators do not miss out on necessary subsidies and investments in fleet modernization and expansion by cities and municipalities. In addition, passenger counting benefits operations when it comes to anticipating, planning and meeting the demand and deployment of appropriate vehicles. Last but not least, in a digitized operation, passenger counting makes it easier to control revenues – for example, by reconciling passengers counted with tickets actually redeemed. 

From the passenger’s perspective, too, the utilization data are important decision-making aids for trip planning. Knowing how full the next bus (and the one after that) is makes traveling more relaxed – especially when passengers are traveling with wheelchairs, strollers and luggage. All in all, a good travel experience means increased profits for the public transport operator.

>> Read more: Digitalizing public transportation

Goal: Collect Data from Counting Systems With as Little Interruption as Possible

Modern public transport operators aiming for a high degree of digitalizing usually rely on automated passenger counting (APC) systems. APC sensors are installed at every door and thus record all passengers boarding and alighting.

Passenger counting systems in buses and trains always generate valuable data that is of importance. It is therefore all the more important for the economic efficiency and passenger-friendliness of a public transport operator that APC systems function without interruption. Intelligent Ethernet switches contribute to error detection both in passenger counting systems and within the entire IP network.

In a digitalized vehicle, the Ethernet switch plays another important role in ensuring the preservation of APC data: It detects system failures even if they are sporadic. If the automated passenger counting system fails, the on-board computer can detect this by means of cyclical queries. However, if data is only occasionally not recorded – for example, due to poor cabling – this failure could go unnoticed for a long time. In this case, the managed Ethernet switch benefits the public transport operator.

>> Read also: Network Design for the Digitalized Public Transport Bus

Periodic queries vs. event-based error outputs

Periodic queries have one major drawback: you don’t know what happens between queries. If the interval is set too tight, a lot of data is produced unnecessarily in the network.

Event-based error outputs are only sent on the network when there is actually an error. This push principle is also used by ROQSTAR managed switches to detect even sporadic errors.

This is how Ethernet Switches Contribute to Error-Free Passenger Counting

Depending on the IT infrastructure, managed Ethernet switches use different protocols for network monitoring or error detection. When a fault occurs, the control center is informed.

Basically, there are the following diagnostic options within an IP network:

Remote Logging: Log entries and changes in the Ethernet switch are mirrored to a remote logging server in the control center.

SNMP Traps: The standardized and well known Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) allows to set up monitoring.

ITxPT xStatus as part of DNS-SD: The discovery protocol for IP networks defined by ITxPT can be used for monitoring purposes. Different functions can be monitored across vehicles and fleets.

>> Learn more about ITxPT 


Automated passenger counting systems play an important role in the profitability and passenger-friendliness of operations. However, always remember to monitor the functionality of the systems so you don’t miss out on valuable data from the IP network. Managed Ethernet switches designed specifically for public transport come standard with the necessary features to ensure network monitoring and thus the uninterrupted flow of data from the systems.

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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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