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Upgrade marks a sign of the times

Metlink says new digital signs will be installed at bus stops and train stations as the real-time system is overhauled to provide more accurate information on the Metlink network.

The upgrade project of Metlink’s real-time information [RTI] system will “enhance tracking of buses and trains and adds a feature that measures available onboard capacity”.

Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC] transport committee chair Thomas Nash said the new RTI system was designed to improve customer experience.

“It will track the location of our vehicles every second of the day and update digital signs faster than they update now,” he said.

“The current system is close to its use by date and its inaccuracy is a significant pain point for our passengers. The new system will greatly enhance passenger confidence in our network.”

The new signs come after a deal between GWRC Metlink and global technology firm NEC was struck.

The information on NEC’s new signs will be generated by Metlink and then displayed using software developed by Wellington’s Somar Digital.

The project is expected to cost about $19 million over 10 years, with $8 million of that needed to set up the system and the other $11 million needed to maintain the system – 51 per cent of this cost will be funded by NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi.

Alongside the new signs, text-to-speech units would also be installed at some bus stops for blind and visually impaired passengers.

Metlink group manager Samantha Gain said the project could take up to two years to roll out due to the size of such a task.

“About 250 digital signs around the region need to be replaced and new hardware installed on approximately 450 buses. By June 2024, we hope to have the new RTI software up and running in the background, and the whole project completed by December 2025,” Gain said.

A Metlink spokesperson could not confirm when stations in Wairarapa would be getting the new digital displays installed but said it would be within the next two years.

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