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Voice of Users
Intelligent bus stop pole information system
Customer : Airport Transport Service Co., Ltd.
Original limousine bus operator to take advantage of a seat reservation system similar to the system airlines use
Mr. Michihiro Kano, Deputy Director, General Affairs Department, Airport Transport Service Co., Ltd.
Mr. Tomohiro Miyashita, Information Systems Section, General Affairs Department, Airport Transport Service Co., Ltd.
Airport Transport Service Co., Ltd. is well known as the company that operates the highway express airport limousine bus service that link both Haneda Airport and Narita International Airport with Tokyo and the major cities of the Kanto region. Between 10,000 and 13,000 passengers travel from Haneda Airport by limousine bus on an average day.
“When the company was founded in 1954,” explains Mr. Michihiro Kano, Deputy Director of the General Affairs Department, “we actually used real limousines. As the number of passengers increased, however, we had to start using microbuses to keep up with demand. At the time we called them ‘limousine buses’. This term, which we coined, is now commonly used throughout Japan to describe the scheduled buses that link airports and cities.” (Mr. Michihiro Kano)
The biggest difference between regular buses and airport limousine buses is the fixed seating capacity of an airport limousine bus. Mr. Ikuki Minomo, Branch Manager of Limousine Passenger Service’s Haneda Office and the person in charge of the company’s airport information desk explained why.
“Since airport limousine buses use the expressway, passengers are not allowed to stand, which limits the number of passengers to the number seats on the bus. This makes seat management extremely important. Actually, the management of both seating and luggage is similar to the system used by airlines”. (Mr. Minomo)
The airport limousine bus is an indispensable means of transportation for users of Haneda and Narita. Using a seating management system similar to that used by an airline, seating space can be found from any limousine bus stop.
Haneda Airport limousine bus stop. An average of approximately 10,000 people uses the limousine bus service each day.
TOUGHBOOK is an intelligent bus stop pole information terminal strong enough to withstand wind and rain.
Mr. Ikuki Minomo, Branch Manager, Haneda Office, Limousine Passenger Service Co., Ltd.
Ticket vending machine in Haneda Airport. As a risk countermeasure, tickets can be issued from three locations, Haneda, Narita, and Hakozaki.
Even at bus stops exposed to wind and rain, thanks to the rugged design and touch panel operation, a high level of service can be provided to customers.
In the days when Haneda Airport had only Terminal 1, reservations and ticketing were handled through a host computer. When customers bought tickets at the ticket office in the information center, the transaction was processed by the host computer at the head office in Tokyo’s Hakozaki. However, explained Mr. Kano, there were many issues with central control using a host computer.
“If the host computer ran down, we lost the ability to issue tickets. We had an experience that the air conditioning stopped working in the computer room. It raised the room temperature and the host computer stopped working.” (Mr. Kano)
To address such problems, the system was renovated along with the completion of Terminal 2 in 2004. We migrated from central control system to distributed system. We diversify ticket issue system to head office in Tokyo’s Hakozaki, Haneda and Narita. If one of systems runs down, other system backs up.
Addition to this innovation, we changed the bus stop pole. Electronic signs were adopted so that destinations could be seen from a distance and TOUGHBOOK PCs were installed to allow easy verification of ticketing and bus status at the limousine bus stop. Computerization created what could be called, ‘an intelligent bus stop pole information system.’ Mr. Tomohiro Miyashita of the Information Systems Section of the General Affairs Department explained why they chose the TOUGHBOOK.
“One of the challenges we faced during innovation was that the bus stop pole at Haneda Airport has smaller overhead shelters than that at Narita International Airport, which meant that terminals would be directly affected on windy or rainy days. To overcome this, Meitetsucom Co., Ltd., the company we contracted for system development, suggested the TOUGHBOOK, saying ‘This is your only choice’.” (Mr. Miyashita)
Furthermore, TOUGHBOOK PCs were deployed for the bus stop pole information system at the new international terminal at Haneda, which opened in 2010. At the same time, the TOUGHBOOK PCs at Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 were upgraded to the latest models in preparation for the large increase in passengers that was expected.
Keeping up with limousine buses that arrive every 5 minutes and showing the time to each destination
Information provided ranges from reservation confirmation, seating space of next bus, to time required.
At peak times, limousine buses arrive at stops every five minutes. Within that brief time, onsite staff must guide passengers to the bus and load the luggage. They also have the job of issuing tickets to passengers who arrive at the bus stop with prepaid ticket coupons.
Before TOUGHBOOK was introduced, staff had to contact the office each time to find out how many vacant seats were on the next limousine bus, which made the job extremely hectic. It was also difficult to tell passengers how long it would take to reach a specific destination because the staff had no way of knowing how busy it was on a given day. However, the TOUGHBOOK intelligent bus stop pole information system solved all these problems.
“With just a quick touch of the TOUGHBOOK touch panel, staff could know immediately how full the next limousine bus was.
What’s more, TOUGHBOOK also lists the time to each destination under current conditions.
Since all of airport limousine buses are equipped with GPS and because all routes are organized into small zones, it is possible to locate, for example, where the lead bus is currently traveling and how many minutes it is taking to cover each zone.
Using this information, it is possible to accurately calculate the time required to reach a destination at a particular time during the day.
TOUGHBOOK makes it possible to tell passengers promptly how long it will take to reach a destination when they asked because the information can be checked right at the bus stop.” (Mr. Minomo)
A more convenient and friendly airport limousine bus with service added to Narita International Airport and a new reservation system
Right now, TOUGHBOOK deployment to the bus stop pole is limited to Haneda Airport, but Mr. Kano would like to expand to Narita International Airport as well.
“We are eager to incorporate TOUGHBOOK into our bus stop pole at Narita International Airport, but we’re forced to wait because some bus stops are not yet connected to the airport’s LAN. However, we anticipate having this problem solved in 2011.” (Mr. Kono)
A new reservation system that allows the direct purchase of airport limousine bus tickets online is scheduled for completion in the autumn of 2011. Thanks to this system, passengers will enjoy the greater convenience of being able to reserve and purchase tickets directly from the Airport Transport Service Co. website.
Both Haneda and Narita are surrounded by change with the influx of low-cost airlines, increasing competition from overseas airports, and other factors. Despite these changes, there is no doubt that users of both airports will increase; and airport limousine buses and the TOUGHBOOK are expected to continue playing an important role in supporting reliable transportation for both airports for years to come.
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