Transit of the future

High-capacity transit communication networks, connected vehicles and digitised transit operations play a critical role in driving the smart city evolution and they are opening up a world of possibilities for both riders and transit authorities.

BAI’s infrastructure is 5G-ready and designed to meet the unique challenges of each mode of transport. Take a ride through our solutions to learn how sensors, analytics and pervasive on-board connectivity can strengthen public safety, boost operational efficiencies and enhance the passenger experience.

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Transit of the future concepts
Enabling technologies
Data driven transit operations management
Vehicle health monitoring
Help points
Fare payment systems
Analytics services (including advanced video analytics)
Digital signage
CCTV streaming
Real time asset monitoring
Public Wi-Fi advertising (on devices)
Public Wi-Fi advertising on devices
Public Wi-Fi
Vehicle health monitoring
Help points
Fare payment systems
Analytics services
Digital signage
CCTV streaming
Real time asset monitoring
Public Wi-Fi advertising (on devices)
Public Wi-Fi advertising (on devices)
Help points
Digital advertising
Expanded HD CCTV network
Advanced video analytics
Real time asset monitoring
Public Wi-Fi advertising (on devices)
Public Wi-Fi advertising (on devices)
Noise detection
On-board predictive maintenance
Base Station Hotel
Cell tower macro coverage
Station cellular & Wi-Fi
Private trackside network
(for internal operations use only)
Cellular trackside network
Tunnel cellular coverage
  • Vehicle health monitoring

    Technology options

    • Manufacturer or third party proprietary systems
    • BAI connected vehicle platform

    Use cases

    • Track equipment performance and identify potential issues such as slow-closing doors or wearing brakes and over-temperature axle bearing before equipment fails
    • Predictive maintenance, trend analysis and real-time alerts help determine when to take proactive, preventative action — extending asset lifecycles, reducing costs and downtime
  • Help points

    Technology options

    • Digital interactive displays

    Use cases

    • Provide help points to allow customers to find directions, read frequently asked questions during unattended/off-peak hours, or when customer service representative is unavailable
  • Fare payment systems


    • Biometric ticket barriers
    • Bluetooth connectivity
    • Wi-Fi


    • Jump on board without barriers – smart ticketing charges customer fare directly
    • Ticket system connected to app to facilitate accurate, seamless fare calculation and entry/exit
  • Analytics services (including advanced video analytics)

    Technology options

    • Wi-Fi
    • Bluetooth
    • Video
    • Artificial Intelligence (AI)

    Use cases

    • Origin/destination analysis
    • Real time passenger crowding
    • Location for route planning
    • Fare evasion
    • Abnormal behaviour
  • Digital signage

    Technology options

    • Billboards and digital displays
    • Lights synced with operational network
    • QR codes

    Use cases

    • Provide interactive billboards/signs that provide information about transit (e.g. timetables, congestion)
    • Sync lights with operational command (e.g. flashing arrows pointing to exit during emergency)
    • Targeted advertising use cases using digital displays
  • CCTV streaming

    Technology options

    • Biometric security cameras
    • Artificial Intelligence (AI)

    Use cases

    • Reduce crime
    • Identify lost personnel and baggage
    • Detect and alert when unauthorised personnel enter restricted areas or when crews are seen working without safety gear
    • Detect and alert on abnormal/suspicious behaviour
  • Real time asset monitoring

    Technology options

    • Sensors in assets connected to operational system

    Use cases

    • Alert staff when assets need repairing (e.g. track related items)
    • Monitor location of assets with GPS connected via Wi-Fi
  • Public Wi-Fi advertising (on devices)

    Technology options

    • Wi-Fi captive portal
    • BAI or third party app

    Use cases

    • Advertising to support free Wi-Fi service
    • Urgent service messages pushed through the app
  • Noise detection

    Technology options

    • Audio sensors
    • Artificial Intelligence (AI)

    Use cases

    • Detect and alert on abnormal sounds (e.g. gunshot, glass breakage, personal distress)
    • Utilise audio sensors in private/vulnerable areas (e.g. bathrooms)
    • Tie to video to enhance alerting
  • On-board predictive maintenance

    Technology options

    Use cases

    • Alert faults in real time to reduce out of service time for vehicles
    • Improve fleet planning to deal with service affecting faults
  • Data driven transit operations management

    Technology options

    • Data from sensors
    • Artificial Intelligence (AI)

    Use cases

    • Accumulate data from Internet of Things (IoT) – AI to provide predictive operational scenarios and decisions
    • Forecast operational staff scheduling, train scheduling, station crowd management, station layout planning

Find out more about our in-station solutions

Visit Station of the future

Welcome to the transit of the future

Intelligent connectivity – taking transit into the future

The sensors, analytics and pervasive connectivity transforming many sectors have vast potential to make transit safer, more efficient, sustainable and cost-effective —across an entire transit system, above and below ground.

By providing fine-grained, real-time control over every aspect of transit operations, virtualised network communications enable a wide range of applications and solutions that benefit transit authorities, passengers, as well as other municipal stakeholders.

Safer for everyone, everywhere

Most transit systems protect passengers and property with on-site security staff and closed-circuit television (CCTV). But security teams are largely reactive and CCTV on its own is always passive.

Injecting data analytics into transit operations can increase safety and strengthen security, enabling CCTV systems to actively notify security teams when unauthorised personnel enter off-limit areas or maintenance crews are onsite without mandatory safety gear. It also allows staff and emergency personnel to respond more efficiently when help is needed and make on-the-fly service adjustments, as required. Push notifications can then be used to inform passengers and recommend alternate routes to prevent station overcrowding. In Toronto, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) developed a solution to measure passenger volumes based on anonymised association data from the Wi-Fi network. This application has been configured to generate alerts when platform conditions indicate overcrowding. This solution was further adapted to support physical distancing measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic – giving TTC operators the information needed to make safer trip planning decisions.

Seamless flow with minimal downtime

Even with regularly scheduled maintenance, equipment can fail without warning, causing costly and time-consuming breakdowns that congest platforms and frustrate passengers. Intelligent connectivity makes it possible to integrate systems and deploy smart sensors to monitor vehicles, equipment, and infrastructure, in real-time.

This proactive maintenance approach not only minimises downtime but also helps extend asset lifecycles for a longer, better return on investment. Smart monitoring has applications beyond maintenance that enhances every aspect of transit operations. It can be used to connect transit control, maintenance management facilities and vehicles to generate comprehensive real-time operational insights to keep things running smoothly.

In Tokyo, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors are combined with advanced data analytics to help identify weaknesses, forecast failures and schedules repairs – to keep its 34 million weekly passengers moving around the city. This use of ‘condition-based maintenance’ reduces the need for maintenance-related closures and allows the operators to pivot from inefficient periodical maintenance system to intelligent scheduling.

Sustainable environmentally and financially

System-wide connectivity also gives transit authorities new tools to manage environmental impacts while controlling costs and boosting ridership. Sensors to monitor passenger counts in stations and on vehicles make it possible to adjust temperature controls dynamically — conserving energy while improving passenger comfort. The greener, cleaner, and more comfortable the rider experience, the more it will appeal to passengers. Barcelona is capitalising on this trend with a city-wide smart strategy that includes hybrid buses and smart bus shelters with solar-powered digital screens that show waiting times.

Smart technologies can also help make system operations more financially sustainable. The legacy approach of investing in one-off ‘point’ solutions often ends up requiring duplicate, parallel technology infrastructures or equipment for individual capabilities, adding costs instead of streamlining. Using a converged network enables multiple applications at once, creating opportunities to consolidate infrastructure and gain long-term efficiencies.

Leveraging anonymised aggregated data gathered from the network can help transit authorities plan more effectively for the future by correlating ridership trends, fare revenue, operational expenses, and hardware depreciation. This helps operators gain an integrated, accurate, predictive picture of where investments will deliver the biggest returns to improve system performance and passenger experience.

The good news is that many transit authorities already have the building blocks for this future transit vision through their deployments of wireless network technologies. The opportunity now is to turn those building blocks into a sustainable platform for evolution.

In our next blogs, we will delve further into how ‘transit of the future’ can improve the passenger experience, digitising transit operations and mobility as a service.

Sign up to our blog series and take a ride through our transit of the future solutions.

Learn how intelligent connectivity can enable a safe, seamless, sustainable and cost-effective transit experience.

Transit of the future: deliver the data-driven experience passengers expect

Passengers increasingly expect connectivity to keep them informed, productive and in touch with family and friends throughout their public transit journeys.

In the transit of the future, that connectivity will become even richer — supporting value-added services and applications that make the passenger experience safer, more comfortable and more enjoyable from beginning to end.

One of the most important benefits connectivity offers is safety. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened expectations that services should proactively protect people’s wellbeing. In an environment as dynamic and fluid as public transit, passengers want to receive notifications related to trip delays, security incidents and other shifting conditions, with clear guidance on what they should do next.

How does a transit provider meet those expectations? Having the right network in place is key. With intelligent connectivity, sensors and insights-driven data analytics, transit authorities can push real-time alerts directly to passengers’ mobile devices, helping them make informed decisions to avoid overcrowded stations and/or plan alternate routes.

People want to stay connected

With smartphones being a cornerstone feature of urban life, people expect to stay connected everywhere they go.  Transit systems that offer public Wi-Fi can help meet that expectation with their existing networks. Having the supporting platform already in place makes it easy to integrate add on ‘connected capabilities’ to enrich the passenger experience.

Take ticketing, for example. A mobile app can help passengers calculate fares accurately for a given route on the spot, improving trip planning. Smart biometric barriers could eliminate the need for swipe cards, tickets or tokens, allowing passengers to move seamlessly through stations and board vehicles, with fares deducted automatically through Wi-Fi.

Beyond the point of payment, transit authorities in Auckland, London, Paris and Calgary are experimenting with — or have implemented — zone-based pricing. With the use of digital connectivity, fares can be adjusted automatically according to time of day, distance travelled or other parameters. This not only provides an opportunity to boost revenues in peak periods but also to stimulate ridership and optimize usage patterns by incentivizing off-peak or alternate route travel. Applying data analytics to monitor flows would allow authorities to continually fine-tune the movement of passengers through the system — and enhance the passenger experience at the same time.

Connectivity also enables digital and interactive help points, on-board vehicles or in stations, that can be updated in real-time to deliver responsive navigational information to passengers. In Barcelona, for example, interactive billboards and signage keep riders current on timetable changes and congestion. This same connectivity is leveraged during emergency situations, where their operations teams synchronize signage with in-station lighting to facilitate passenger wayfinding.

In Vienna, where the transit system has the reputation of being among the world’s best, authorities use multi-sensory guidance systems, out-of-order notices and custom-designed route planners to help people with hearing and visual impairments navigate the transit system easily.

Protecting passenger privacy

While there are rich opportunities to leverage passenger data to enhance the commuting experience, transit authorities need to implement safeguards to protect their riders’ information. Adherence to privacy legislations such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is critical.

Fortunately, the value in transit network data can be reaped from anonymized device associations which do not contain any personally identifiable information. The Connectivity outlook report 2020 found that 80 percent of passengers are comfortable with transit authorities using their data anonymously to improve the transit experience.

With anonymized device data, transit authorities can help passengers monitor their preferred routes for service changes or nudge them toward alternate routes when volumes are high. In Toronto, authorities implemented an application that leverages this type of data to optimize passenger flows and identify overcrowding before conditions become hazardous. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, this solution was quickly adapted to also facilitate safe social distancing protocols on station platforms.

Ready for growth

Tapping into the enhanced data insights of authorities’ networks can shift to a proactive transit planning approach, enabling the most efficient use of resources. This is going to become increasingly important as cities continue to grow — and from New Delhi to Dhaka, that’s the forecast for many years to come. By 2050, the United Nations estimates nearly 70 percent of the world’s population will in cities — up from 55 percent today. As urban planners think about increasing demands on their infrastructure, transit authorities can leverage insights derived from their transit networks to support planning efforts and at the same time position themselves to continue meeting passengers’ evolving expectations.

Learn more

The transit of the future will bring exciting new possibilities to respond to the demands of the connected passenger experience to make services safer, more personal, and easier to use. In our next post, we will look at how these developments will help operations teams achieve greater efficiency.

Sign up to our blog series and take a ride through our transit of the future solutions.

Learn how intelligent connectivity can enable a safe, seamless, sustainable and cost-effective transit experience.

Transit of the future: How can data optimise your operations?

In the transit of the future, stations and vehicles will be more than just physical assets. They’ll be connected smart hubs that make operations run smoother and elevate the passenger experience, supporting a vast range of applications — from real-time monitoring and onboard predictive maintenance to energy efficiency and temperature control.

Vehicles need continuous connectivity to support these kinds of applications. With a combination of cellular and Wi-Fi networks, connectivity can be provided through various technologies such as outdoor macro cell sites, small cells, in-station and trackside coverage networks — augmented by onboard and in-station Wi-Fi networks. With that seamless connectivity, every vehicle becomes a moving data hub able to exchange a rich set of real-time information about its location and speed, physical condition, passenger load and other attributes sourced from the sensors embedded throughout.

Every vehicle is a hub

Uninterrupted connectivity will transform every vehicle in the fleet into a rolling digital hub, opening up a wealth of insights to operations teams by providing live monitoring of a vehicle’s status and alarms, as well as longer-term perspectives that can be converted into actionable insights.

Terabytes of vehicle status data, stored in the cloud, could provide a basis for long-term historical analysis and predictive maintenance algorithms — triggering alerts about wear and tear on brakes, doors and other equipment before outright failures occur. Vehicle data such as axle temperature, vibration and alignment could be correlated with factors like equipment age and external information sources, such as weather reports, to further predict equipment reliability for efficient maintenance and spares management.

All this data could also support service planning. Knowing the total passenger weight of a given car, line or entire transit network, for example, would make it possible to accurately understand service demand on any given day. Combined with population growth and density projections, this would give route planners a more finely tuned ability to identify and plan for seasonal variations in passenger volumes — adjusting fares, schedules, or capacity to increase overall efficiency.

Additional applications could include integrated environmental sensors, smart ticketing and online fare payments to allow passengers to get on and off any vehicle without passing through physical barriers such as turnstiles that often cause bottlenecks. Live data feeds can push notifications to mobile devices or to onboard messaging systems so passengers can adjust their route choices on the go; helping operations teams better manage everyday congestion and guide passengers in case of emergencies. Similarly, traffic volume and condition data could be sent directly to in-station help points for passenger wayfinding and decision making.

And of course, there’s the matter of connecting passengers themselves. Onboard live TV, news and Wi-Fi access all rely on the highest-quality mobile connectivity.

In Hong Kong, BAI is using innovations like these to support fully automatic and driverless trains on the Mass Transit Railway’s (MTR) South Island Line. BAI‘s communications infrastructure provides real-time video surveillance of the track ahead as well as the carriages themselves, feeding directly into the MTR’s control centre. In the case of a smoke alarm, closed-circuit TV (CCTV) connected to the train’s alarm system automatically scans the area to provide operations teams with live footage of the area.  Connectivity also supports the onboard helpline system for passengers.

In partnership with BAI, the MTR has commenced a project to upgrade its train-to-ground networks across the entire system. The upgrade will provide higher data throughput between trains and the core network. This will support more extensive and higher resolution in-train CCTV, and will provide connectivity for train-borne infotainment, train status data offload, alarms reporting, and passenger Wi-Fi services.

Every station is a node

Connecting key assets to the network — such as doors, elevators as well as heating and cooling systems — presents operations teams with numerous opportunities to both increase efficiencies and improve the passenger experience.

Smart CCTV provides safety teams with a more detailed view of platform conditions across the system and alerts operations to crowding or congestion issues. It can also help passengers identify lost items or alert security staff to potential hazards concealed in unattended bags. It’s even possible to deploy ambient noise sensors that ‘listen’ for abnormal sounds to identify dangerous situations quicker.

In addition, passenger comfort in stations can be controlled through smart air quality and environmental sensors that trigger heating and cooling dynamically, depending on the conditions of each site, helping authorities save energy and realise long-term cost efficiencies.

Combining vehicles and stations into transit system network

With passengers, vehicles, and assets connected to each other, interactional, anonymised data gives transit authorities a comprehensive, real-time view of their operations and performance — as well as the ability to control and adjust systems as required.

This was precisely the case in Milan, where local authority Azienda Trasporti Milanesi (ATM) has increased passenger safety by transforming its various, disjointed solutions into a single, converged IP network. The network has allowed ATM to install CCTV cameras throughout its underground metro lines to provide better coverage and enhance passenger safety. The centralised architecture has allowed ATM to cut costs and streamline its operations – requiring fewer technicians to carry out routine maintenance across the system.

By integrating operational and passenger-facing solutions onto a single platform, with analytics delivering comprehensive insights, authorities will be able to reduce short and long-term costs and reinvest those savings elsewhere for even greater impact. Investing in converged connectivity will allow transit authorities to meet growing demand for transit services in a way that’s flexible, integrated, and economically sustainable.

Learn more

By connecting stations and vehicles together in an end-to-end transit network, transit authorities can make whole system more efficient, cost-effective and higher performing ever before. Read the other blogs in our Transit of the future series below to learn more or contact us to find out how BAI can help your organisation achieve its smart transit goals.

Sign up to our blog series and take a ride through our transit of the future solutions.

Learn how intelligent connectivity can enable a safe, seamless, sustainable and cost-effective transit experience.

What’s next for the station of the future?

The station of the future is the future of public transport

From rebuilding trust in public safety to assisting operators to provide live information updates, the station of the future’s pervasive connectivity and the capabilities this enables is indeed the future of public transport.

The station of the future is set to play a critical role in helping businesses and societies recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand for public transport will return as businesses and economies recover but rebuilding public confidence in safe travel will be critical. Careful investment in networking, communications, and data technologies will help fast-track the process.

Over this blog series, we have looked at many technologies and solutions, including:

  • Stations and data: using data to improve operations, including automated passenger counting, origin-destination analysis and privacy protections.
  • Connectivity: using agile operations and flexible planning systems to manage COVID-19 risks and rebuild commuter confidence.
  • Proactive monitoring: using video analytics, asset monitoring and tracking, environmental monitoring and smart keys, doors and access control to improve service, safety and efficiency.
  • Analytics and automation: including video analytics and smart automation to generate business intelligence and improve the customer experience quickly and cost effectively.
  • Customer experience: using customer service robots and virtual information kiosks, digital displays and smart advertising ecosystems to provide personalised apps and information feeds.
  • Smart transit: applications running over a smart transit network can convert individual stations and vehicles into smart hubs with monitoring, automation and real-time management, for better service and a better experience.

Each individual solution is transformative, but none on their own makes a station of the future – that requires something more.

Data makes the difference

When we talk about the ‘station of the future’ we are talking about a transit system that combines multiple technologies to create a fully integrated, operationally flexible and customer-focused transport network. Responsive to changing needs, adaptable to new situations, and above all, driven by continuous streams of data.

Data is the critical ingredient and with continuous connectivity, real-time data feeds are possible. These feeds are the foundation for most of the technologies described throughout the series. Combined with analytics and apps, they can transform public transport operations.

Already we see these technologies operating around the world:

  • In Hong Kong, BAI is testing 5G radiating cables in tunnels for the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) Shatin–Central Link. The project uses a distributed antenna system (DAS) that will facilitate future 5G upgrades with minimal disruption and at a low cost.
  • In Toronto, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) recently deployed a BAI-designed data analytics solution that provides insights into foot traffic and anticipated crowding throughout the system. The TTC’s ability to analyse, understand, and action data will help it better respond to customer needs.
  • New York: Transit Wireless (majority-owned by BAI) has built five data centres across the five Boroughs to provide cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity to subway riders. As transport authorities deploy sensors and Internet of Things devices, the network will be ready to serve content and services from the network’s edge.

BAI’s 2020 Connectivity outlook report showed that, around the world, transit riders expect to have seamless mobile coverage as they travel. The good news is that they support the measures needed to make it reality; including government investment in network infrastructure generally (91%), in 5G capabilities specifically (83%), and use of their anonymised data to improve transport operations (81%).

Building your station of the future

We believe that governments and transit authorities should invest now in the data infrastructure they will need to help their economies and operations recover.

Agility and flexibility will be the watchwords as workers, businesses, cities, and nations recover from the pandemic. And there is no better way to become agile than to adopt a ‘data first’ strategy. Accurate, real-time information combined with intuitive analytics and business intelligence are invaluable tools for building safer and more reliable, responsive, and efficient public transport services.

What is the station of the future?

By partnering with BAI Communications, transit authorities can become the catalyst for creating connected cities; enabling connectivity and economic growth through the provision of a high-capacity, high-availability, multi-use communications network.

Take a walk through our ‘station of the future,’ and see how the support of IoT and data-driven solutions can further benefit the passenger experience, strengthen your operational capability, and help you prepare for the introduction of 5G.

Sign up to our blog series and take a ride through our transit of the future solutions.

Learn how intelligent connectivity can enable a safe, seamless, sustainable and cost-effective transit experience.