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RTD Description/use updates needed

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PJH

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#1
I've had a few submissions for RTD talkgroups, and while updating/reviewing RTD, its a small mess.

I have updated a few so that the rail side is consistant (had both FasTracks and light rail in there, all rail updated to show "FasTracks") - however there are various bus dispatch talkgroups with generic names. Some may have locations.

Then you have the access-a-rides with a few different names, including what appears to be accident reporting talkgroups.

I'd like to continue to organize the DTRS listing by use and function. For example:

Systemwide Talkgroups
-Administration
-Security
-Events

FasTracks
-Operations
-MOW
-Rail Car Maintence
-Construction

Bus
-Dispatch
-Main
-Servicing

Dial-A-Ride/Access-A-Ride
-etc

There are some other random talkgroup descriptions that don't seem to fit in a category, or may be a bus dispatch group.

Please take a look and see of something more specific can be made. Please discuss here so that I can compile the information and come up with a plan.
 

Spitfire8520

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#2
I've had a few submissions for RTD talkgroups, and while updating/reviewing RTD, its a small mess.
RTD is always a mess and make changes all the time.

I have updated a few so that the rail side is consistant (had both FasTracks and light rail in there, all rail updated to show "FasTracks")
I don't know why you would go with FasTracks. That is the name of a broad spectrum RTD expansion program.

"The RTD FasTracks Program is a multi-billion dollar comprehensive transit expansion plan to build 122 miles of new commuter rail and light rail, 18 miles of bus rapid transit, 21,000 new parking spaces at light rail and bus stations, and enhance bus service for easy, convenient bus/rail connections across the eight-county district." - What is FasTracks?

RTD simply calls it their "rail" service according to their website.

- however there are various bus dispatch talkgroups with generic names. Some may have locations.
Not really guaranteed. A lot of the bus talkgroups are generic and assigned by the dispatcher. The dispatchers actually remotely affiliate the bus radios to a TG of their choice to talk to them upon receiving a talk request from the MDC. From there, it can be used for any number of areas and events.

RTD bus drivers have little or no control over their radio from my observations.

Then you have the access-a-rides with a few different names, including what appears to be accident reporting talkgroups.
Access-a-Ride is a contracted operation. Individual talkgroups are given to the different companies for their drivers to talk back to them. These also change moderately frequently as contracts change hands and even company names change.
 

natedawg1604

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#3
Spitfire is quite correct! Access-a-Ride (ARI) is a stand-alone bus service with their own talkgroups, including the 2 Accident Reporting Channels. Although RTD dispatchers do talk with ARI drivers on ARI channels, ARI talkgroups are ONLY used by ARI drivers on ARI routes. Unlike the general RTD fleet, ARI drivers seem to utilize "traditional" dispatch channels similar to school bus fleets, along with other pre-programmed channels allocated for specific purposes. Also, several RTD contractors use private radio systems separate from DTRS.

But the "general" RTD fleet is quite different from ARI. Regular RTD drivers may call-out accidents or incidents on a "fallback" channel, but they have no dedicated accident or emergency channel. Like Spitfire, my observations suggest regular RTD operators have little to no control over what talkgroup/channel is used when talking on the radio. So the Dispatch center seems to utilize some type of on-the-fly talkgroup assignment protocol like Spitfire mentioned.

I've never heard regular RTD drivers reference channel names other than "fallback", which appears to be a mode or state the bus goes into when experiencing computer or mechanical issue, and not necessarily a radio channel as such. Furthermore, it appears RTD dispatchers do not want regular RTD drivers talking on the radio at all, unless they have an emergency, need permission to change a route or dispatch needs to raise them.

Also Light Rail has their own set of RTD talkgroups, but I've rarely heard MOW staff or dispatchers mention channel names (other than a few primary train dispatch channels such as "East Dispatch"). I'm not sure if "FastTracks" is a better name than "Light Rail", I've have to think about that one. Regardless, RTD definitely still uses dedicated Light Rail channels *approximately* as reflected in RR.

Unfortunately talkgroups/channel names can change at any time, for any reason, and it's difficult to update them because (unlike with many other agencies) you don't commonly hear someone talking on the flipping through channels and calling out channel names, let alone mentioning channel names at all. That is why you may get submissions with geographic locations.
 

PJH

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#4
These are some of the trouble ones that I am looking at - for the moment:

10090 276a D RTDGlobalTrn Global Transportation Base
10052 2744 D RTD Veolia Veolia Transportation Dispatch

Which does what/function?

Veolia is a contractor, but appears to be running a route - but want to make sure it fits in the right grouping in the scheme of things.

The names of the talkgroups shouldn't actually change - as DTRS would have some choice words on updating the database all the time - not that (if they have a key - or their vendor) could change the display names on the radios - but that's a BUNCH of radios to reprogram just to change names (over 2600 at last count).

One user with some knowledge was able to provide this information - RTD buses have what is known as a "Transit Vehicle Control Head". This is intergraded with data and radio services as well as GPS.

All communication is routed thru this head - and "fallback" is known as actually using the radio from voice communication when out of data/gps range or if a driver has an emergency. It is also used if supervisors need voice communication rather than sending a message. They call this "fallback" - in which it really isn't in terms of traditional radio terminology - but rather they are "falling back" to voice communication when data doesn't work.

I think this is were all the bus issues are being tagged as such in the database. This person states this is usually done with mechanics want to know specifics and typing back and forth isn't ideal.

"When buses lose communication with the GPS satellites, or the TCH fails, the radio system reverts automatically to pre-CAD/AVL radio communication procedures, “fallback” mode, using the handset. In “fallback,” operators use pre-CAD/AVL radio procedures to communicate with
dispatch."
Prior to CAD/AVL implementation, on-board bus radio equipment consisted of a radio hand-set and external speaker located to the left of the operator. To communicate with the dispatchers, operators would have to pick up the hand-set, listen to make sure the radio was not in use, press the transmit button, wait for the dispatcher to make a voice acknowledgment of the bus number before speaking into the mouthpiece.
 

natedawg1604

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#5
These are some of the trouble ones that I am looking at - for the moment:

10090 276a D RTDGlobalTrn Global Transportation Base
10052 2744 D RTD Veolia Veolia Transportation Dispatch

Which does what/function?

Veolia is a contractor, but appears to be running a route - but want to make sure it fits in the right grouping in the scheme of things.
...
First of all, many thanks for the info. about fallback and so forth, that is very helpful. Incidentally, the new changes show TG-10040 as a "Emergency" channel. This is basically correct, except it's a data silent alarm channel with no associated voice or audible announcements/messages of any kind. So you might want to change the "tag" field to Data.

Veolia Transportation provides "Group 25" services, which consists of 107 buses operating 29 routes providing approximately 332,000 revenue hours per year. So they support a large amount of RTD routes. I believe TG 10052 is used by Veolia supervisors and perhaps yard staff and maybe others within the company (not RTD dispatchers), it definitely seems to be a "company" channel for lack of a better term. I'm not sure it's associated with any meaningful category, it's basically a stand-alone channel AFAIK.

Re: Global Transportation: Global Transportation supported the Access-a-Ride program from 2003 to 2014, they were probably "ARI Ch. 2". However the company came upon, err, hard times after the CEO plead guilt to Tax Fraud in January 2014 re: $1 Million in unpaid Employment taxes. Several months later RTD dis-engaged their services, so I'm guessing their talkgroup was re-purposed by RTD. I'll try and confirm it's current use.

At present, Access-a-Ride services are provided by the following contractors:

*MV Transportation—50% of all dedicated vehicle service hours
*All Aboard America! (formally called Horizon Coach Lines before Horizon's corporate garage sale)—25% of all dedicated vehicle service hours,
*Via Mobility Services—25% of all dedicated vehicle service hours,
*Transdev (a/k/a Veolia Transportation cab services) —100% of all nondedicated vehicle service (approximately 7% of the total Access-a-Ride service).
So the current RR listings for Access-a-Ride are basically still correct (except for 10090 as noted above). I will make a note to monitor all the ARI channels and confirm everything is up-to-date. I'm fairly sure TG-10052 is NOT within the stand-alone group of ARI channels, but is rather used for Non-ARI (i.g. large bus fleet) Veolia activities.
 

Spitfire8520

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#6
10090 276a D RTDGlobalTrn Global Transportation Base
10052 2744 D RTD Veolia Veolia Transportation Dispatch

Which does what/function?

Veolia is a contractor, but appears to be running a route - but want to make sure it fits in the right grouping in the scheme of things.
10052 is some admin function for one of the bus contractors. Not really used for routes.
10090 is one of the extremely infrequently heard talkgroups. Might be one of the Access-a-Ride contractors or might be abandoned.

The names of the talkgroups shouldn't actually change - as DTRS would have some choice words on updating the database all the time - not that (if they have a key - or their vendor) could change the display names on the radios - but that's a BUNCH of radios to reprogram just to change names (over 2600 at last count).
RTD isn't really known for their excellent radio procedures. Only people that have used proper channel names are security and the bus supervisors. Anyone else kinda just calls it their channel. MV is certainly very possessive of the channels they are given.

As for the display name, they can be independent of the database. The administrators might not be happy, but that has not stopped some agencies from doing so in the past. The database probably has them as a generic "RTD Contractor" label.

All communication is routed thru this head - and "fallback" is known as actually using the radio from voice communication when out of data/gps range or if a driver has an emergency. It is also used if supervisors need voice communication rather than sending a message. They call this "fallback" - in which it really isn't in terms of traditional radio terminology - but rather they are "falling back" to voice communication when data doesn't work.
May as well keep them all labelled as "Fallback." The talkgroups labelled "fallback" are entirely reserved for that purpose and are not used for anything else.

I think this is were all the bus issues are being tagged as such in the database.
Pretty much. I've heard routes from Boulder to Highlands Ranch, whether or not they are operated by RTD or a contractor, on the same generic bus talkgroups for any number of reasons. A pattern has not made itself known over a period of several years. Dispatchers don't have a name for the talkgroups either.

The only time I heard anything remotely related to channel names was when an Access-a-Ride operator (MV) flip out at a bus dispatcher for using their channel. The only response was something along the lines of the system giving them the channel. Ultimately the Access-a-Ride operator was in the wrong and somehow got onto the bus talkgroup.

Incidentally, the new changes show TG-10040 as a "Emergency" channel. This is basically correct, except it's a data silent alarm channel with no associated voice or audible announcements/messages of any kind. So you might want to change the "tag" field to Data.
Nope. Silent alarm is a panic button located on each bus. TG 10040 is where the dispatchers send the bus radio and remotely activate the mic in order to listen for trouble. It is definitely used for voice communications, although 99.9% of the time it will be driving sounds. You could probably think of it as equivalent to activating the emergency button on a user's radio.

The correct acronym for Access-a-Ride is just "AR." The "I" on things like TG 10094 and 10095 means Incident. I don't know what they exactly define as an "incident."
 
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natedawg1604

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#7
....



Nope. Silent alarm is a panic button located on each bus. TG 10040 is where the dispatchers send the bus radio and remotely activate the mic in order to listen for trouble. It is definitely used for voice communications, although 99.9% of the time it will be driving sounds. You could probably think of it as equivalent to activating the emergency button on a user's radio.


The correct acronym for Access-a-Ride is just "AR." The "I" on things like TG 10094 and 10095 means Incident. I don't know what they exactly define as an "incident."
Hmm, I suppose AR makes more sense. I'm pretty sure Access-a-Ride had least 6 channels prefixed with "ARI" (i.e. ARI-1, ARI 2, ARI-3 etc). ARI-1 and ARI-2 are the primary Access-a-Ride dispatch channels.

Re: TG-10040, I thought it was data because I've never heard any background noise commonly associated with hot mics such as people moving around, background conversations etc. Rather, whenever I've heard voice grants on 10040, I recall hearing only a constant swooshing sound with no discernible background noise whatsoever. But now you've got me curious, I'll have to examine this more closely.
 

natedawg1604

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....
Re: TG-10040, I thought it was data because I've never heard any background noise commonly associated with hot mics such as people moving around, background conversations etc. Rather, whenever I've heard voice grants on 10040, I recall hearing only a constant swooshing sound with no discernible background noise whatsoever. But now you've got me curious, I'll have to examine this more closely.
Update: I pulled some archives and confirmed Spitfire was correct, it seems to be a poor quality and/or improper mic they are using, but there is discernible background noise.
 
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