Public Transport Glossary: Terms and Definitions Around Buses & Trains
26 Apr, 2021

Digitalization in public transport makes it necessary to deal with new systems and terms. From APC to Validator: The following overview is intended to provide those responsible and specialists in the transportation sector with an overview of the confusion of terms in modern transportation.

Digital technologies significantly contribute to improving the processes and services of transportation companies. Both transportation companies and passengers benefit from the resulting optimizations in operating processes, real-time services, new revenue sources, etc. However, before companies and operators can reach their ultimate goal – the digital world – they must overcome the technological challenges that lie along the way. First, we will explain the most common terms related to public transport and digitalized vehicles, and then show you where to start in digitalizing your fleet.


Public transport (PT) includes all local means of transport on fixed routes at fixed intervals. As a rule, these are high-capacity, short- to medium-range means of passenger transportation such as buses, subways, and streetcars. Public transport stands in contrast to individual and long-distance transport.

Multimodal Mobility

Multimodal mobility is the term for all means of transportation to get from A to B. This includes all classic means of transport (bus and train) as well as sharing offers (car, scooter, bicycle).


PTA stands for “Public Transport Authority”. These are authorities that either contract out the provision of bus route operations to other companies (PTO) or carry out the route operations themselves.


Public Transport Operators (PTO) are the operators of vehicle fleets (bus and rail) that are contracted by public transport authorities (PTA).


ITCS stands for “Intermodal Transport Control System” and is a computer-based operations control system for planning, controlling and monitoring the entire operation on board public transport vehicles. It is used in particular to control the following areas: communication between vehicle and control center, computer-aided operation, dynamic passenger information in vehicles and at stops.


A Multiple-Application Driver Terminal (MADT) is a board computer that is connected to the ITCS. It provides productive data such as current line, line planning for the day and driver management for the complete bus. In short, this unit ensures that the right information is displayed at the right time and in the right place.


A Passenger Information System (PIS) provides passengers with live data at bus stops and in vehicles. This includes route information with current arrival and departure times, line numbers, delays and reports of obstructions. It also allows transit agencies to offer advertising via indoor monitors and thus generate an additional source of revenue.


Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) refers to optical room surveillance systems (video surveillance systems) that are used in public transport vehicles. These are used preventively for passenger safety or to detect crime and vandalism.


Automated passenger counting systems (APC) are used to precisely determine the utilization of vehicles and routes and to derive optimizations in the scheduling (capacity) of vehicles and times from this.


Vehicle Communication Gateway (VCG) is a router that is used to establish the connection between the control center and the vehicle.


Ticket validator for payments on board the public transport vehicle. A distinction is made between classic validators for paper tickets and modern validators that support EC, credit card and smartphone payments.


Communication unit for connecting the end users in the network and transmitting data on board a public transport vehicle.

Read also: The Ethernet Switch and its Role in Buses and Trains

Out of the Theory and into Practice

On-board IP network in a public transport bus itxpt

To build digital vehicle systems, there are several areas that transport operators can focus on. An important focus is on infrastructure, especially digital infrastructure, which is essential for the smooth functioning of the systems. This includes the establishment of a reliable network and data infrastructure that provides sufficient bandwidth and capacity to handle the data streams of digital systems.

Continue reading on the “Digitalization in Public Transport” page to learn how transport operators can overcome these challenges. We will focus in particular on the technological requirements and peculiarities of a digital infrastructure.

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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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