Company name: Aboutown Transportation Ltd.
Aboutown Transportation Ltd. originally opened in London, Ontario as Aboutown Cabs Limited in 1947. Since being acquired by the Donnelly family in 1974, Aboutown has grown into a diversified transportation company offering limousines, airport shuttles, paratransit service, city and school busing, and delivery, among other services.
Today, Aboutown’s original operation, its taxicab fleet, leads the way for the eventual division-wide conversion to radio data modems for communications between cars and the distpatch station.
Upgrade for Efficiency
As a response to governmental channel spacing directives, Aboutown upgraded its traditional voice two-way radio to a more efficient system. After considering other voice radios and data modems Teledesign Systems’ (TDS_ wireless radio modems were chosen. Aboutown worked with Teledesign System’s Mark Hubbard extensively in determining the best model wireless modem and configuration for their needs; Mark also provided tech support throughout the process of implementation.
The Teledesign Systems wireless radio modem’s efficient use of channel space was a key factor in the decision. With the TDS radio modems in place, Aboutown has the capacity to fit double their entire 160-car fleet on one channel, a huge benefit with increasing governmental channel spacing regulations. Another factor was configuration flexibility. Aboutown was able to design its own system around the TDS wireless modems without having to make a significant additional investment in a complete suite of components.
Once the TeleDesign Systems wireless modems were selected, the task of infrastructure and interface fell to Aboutown’s in-house programming team. Programmer Fernando Favaro designed a protocol system, base software, and matching mobile software on a Linux platform, allowing Aboutown to control the wireless modem operation very precisely.
Aboutown reported complete satisfaction with Teledesign Systems’ customer service and engineering support process. Inherent in the nature of any homegrown protocol system, Aboutown’s team had to thoroughly understand the modems’ signaling and connection software. Throughout system design and testing, Favaro worked closely with TDS’s Hubbard in developing the system. The development completed, the system was tested in one car, and then in ten cars before being implemented across the entire fleet.
One factor in Aboutown’s choice of the TDS wireless modem is their dependability, even in Western Ontario’s widely harsh weather conditions. Aboutown reports great confidence in the radio link on the part of the taxi drivers because the radio link “doesn’t fail”. “If we have a problem, we know that the radio’s not going to be the problem,” says Favaro. “The radios are rock solid. They run and they runthey don’t latch up, they don’t freeze. That’s critical for us.”
Another benefit of Teledesign Systems wireless modems is Global Positioning System (GPS) capability. The GPS provides direct location of the modem system Aboutown incorporated by including GPS data in the information packets sent to the central system by the modem. An in-car computer and touch screen monitor provides each driver with a live map and directions to customer pickups; this allows for faster response time than available with previous two-way voice radios.