Buses and trains receive green light on driver monitor system

Buses and trains receive green light on driver monitor system

The environment-friendly system will help in the assessment of vehicles' carbon footprint

Go-Ahead Group is trialling the use of a driver behaviour recognition system that allows measurement and control of the energy consumption and carbon emissions of trains and buses.

The system, part of the company’s green IT strategy, will see “black boxes” fitted in the driver’s cabin to monitor gear changes, braking actions and engines left on when vehicles are stationary.

The devices are equipped with a data recording hard drive and a GPRS SIM card, which transmits the information wirelessly to a central database that produces trends and analysis.

“Monitoring brings a number of benefits ranging from reduced fuel costs, to a precise evaluation of vehicles’ carbon footprint,” said Go-Ahead’s group technology director Dave Lynch.

“Having information on how vehicles are being handled also indicates areas where we should provide more training. And the better vehicles are driven, the less CO2 they will produce,” he said.

Tests of the new system are being carried out by the south-east bus operator Metrobus, Go North East and services in Oxford.

Given the success of the trial so far, Go-Ahead plans to immediately fit the technology across its bus and train fleet. The implementation should take a few months.

Other ongoing green IT projects at the transport group include purchasing of eco-friendly Sun servers that have “dramatically improved” energy efficiency at the group’s datacentre, according to Lynch, and implementation of smart meters and monitoring systems to control energy use.

But Lynch is not an advocate of virtualisation and does not intend to use the technology in the near future.

“As opposed to 1970s businesses that set up their IT based on lots of mainframes and equipment, we have centralised everything from the start and our hardware structure is neat and compartmentalised, so I do not feel that we have a need for virtualisation,” he said.