Pupil Transportation Cooperative Selects Nexedge Network For Bus Radios

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIAMobile Relay Associates (MRA) announced that it has entered into a long-term agreement with Pupil Transportation Cooperative to provide the NEXEDGE® Digital Network in support of 148 Kenwood NEXEDGE radios; an all digital network with voice, data and GPS. Pupil Transportation Cooperative is in the business of school bus transportation and provides service to the Los Angeles County School District. Since MRA’s Kenwood NEXEDGE Digital Two-Way Radio Repeater Network covers Southern California in the markets of Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, the system will allow Pupil Transportation Cooperative to use the buses for special events that go outside of Los Angeles County while still maintaining communications using the seamless Kenwood digital network.    

“Pupil Transportation Cooperative has vigilantly looked at all options and has had demonstrations of other radios systems and networks. Nothing came close to what Mobile Relay Associates could offer!” said Joyce Peters, Director of Sales and Marketing at Mobile Relay Associates. The radios will be installed in their fleet of vehicles in December when Pupil Transportation Cooperative has their winter break. The new system from Mobile Relay Associates will provide for a significant advance in safety with the new radios. 

The system was chosen because of the network’s expansive coverage and ease of use and because it provides so many feature rich options that Pupil Transportation Cooperative did not have in its current radio system, which utilized a 900MHz Motorola Privacy Plus trunking system. The most important feature that today’s customers demand is seamless roaming from site to site. Traditional SMR systems require that all parties that are part of a dispatch group must be in range of the same tower site. The new Kenwood Digital Network available through MRA utilizes a digital IP infrastructure of links to connect all the tower sites together into a seamless network.

“Gone are the days when our customers must manually switch their radios to find a tower site from which they can obtain a usable signal and then hope that the receiving party is monitoring the same tower site,” explained Mark Abrams, System Engineer and MRA partner. 

The radios will seek out and locate a usable tower site on their own, register the unit on the tower site to inform the network where it can be found and connect all tower sites together that have a unit registered from the group any time that a dispatch is made over the network. There is seamless roaming, along with the private digital connections insure network security, ease of use and reliable wide area coverage. The next important feature is that Kenwood’s NXDN® air interface provides approximately 10-14db better performance for each radio resulting in 20% better range than the equivalent analog system of similar design, thus filling in many gaps in the coverage of analog systems. This makes the system far more robust than any analog system utilizing the same sites and technical specifications.

Another feature that is built into the system at no additional cost is digital encryption with 16 selectable encryption keys that have 32,000 variants to provide a level of security to any customer who is concerned about their communications being monitored. The digital radio is designed to make the user comfortable with the product by automatically routing all data so that it is not audible by the radio user. Typical analog radio systems that send data will place the data inside the audio channel of the radio, which annoys the end user and prevents the user from speaking on the radio until the data has been sent. The NEXEDGE radio can send GPS, status, text and long data messages without the end user ever hearing any of the data.

Another new feature that the customer will have is the ability to provide private calls, group calling and fleet calls to all of the buses. Unlike PTT networks from Nextel and Verizon, which limit the number of users with group call mode, MRA customers can have an unlimited number of users in group calls and fleet calls without additional charges, thus making the MRA network far more economical to operate. Data rich features include GPS mapping, status messaging, short data messages (text messages), emergency signaling, automatic ignition sense to turn on and off the radio and seamless roaming across 12 sites, for unmatched coverage that only this Kenwood Digital Network could provide.

The network will provide Pupil Transportation Cooperative with increased security in an emergency situation, when such event occurs in the Southern California region. This is significant, since Pupil Transportation Cooperative is responsible to handle all such events involving the school children that are transported on their buses. 

Pyramid Communications, a third party vendor, will provide the GPS/AVL solution with their Street Smarts Software for the fleet.  Pupil Transportation Cooperative will have all the data in-house over the MRA Digital Network without the cost of AVL/GPS Internet Companies. This is a significant monthly saving and will provide the ability to pull up the data at any given time with their network server and 11 desktop workstations, so that all their personnel can view the GPS information at anytime from any of their workstations.

One of the advantages of using the in-house solution is the long-term storage of tracking history. Typical AVL/GPS internet based companies only keep tracking history for a short period of time which requires that you must download and store this information to be able to review past history. In addition to the data retention issue, there is a significant lag time with the GPS updates that occur over the internet. MRA’s system will provide automatic long-term storage of the GPS information and instant GPS location information which will assist Pupil Transportation Cooperative personnel with providing the essential information to parents of their children’s current location as well as the time and location that the child departed the school bus.

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