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TriMet FX buses will get priority traffic signal tech to move through the city faster, arrive on time and shorten commutes.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - TriMet's new Frequent Express buses launch September 19. TriMet's new Frequent Express buses will provide faster commute times and better on-time, green, extra-long buses, thanks to new tech about to come online.

Santa Clara-based Lyt is a tech company that provides a platform which facilitates solutions for public transit, emergencies and traffic light prioritization.

Lyt software solutions are being installed in TriMet's Frequent Express as part of its Division Transit Project, launching September 18.

California-headquartered Lyt specializes in next-generation transit signal priority technology, which will be installed at 58 intersections signals along Division Street as part of the TriMet project connecting downtown Portland and Gresham with the 15-mile FX route.

Timothy Menard is the founder and CEO of Lyt.

"TriMet is one of the most progressive transit agencies in the nation, leveraging modern technologies to improve transportation for the people across the Portland Metro Region," Menard told the Tribune. "Our goal is to improve the way people move through our cities while improving safety and reducing congestion for communities. By adopting LYT's solutions, agencies like TriMet can leverage artificial intelligence, machine learning technologies, and real-time information and analytics to improve the intelligence of their operation, benefitting travelers and residents alike."

Lyt's tech will be installed in the new TriMet green buses — which will be the extra-long, 60-foot bendy buses — and help traffic lights turn green during their commutes all along Southeast Division Street, and from Gresham to Portland and back.

According to Lyt, its transit software on the Division project paves the way for longer buses to move with more efficiency, frequency and reliability — and improving TriMet's timing will improve traffic flow for all. LYT's tech will be installed in the new 60-foot articulated buses and along the route. It allows traffic lights for buses to turn green during their commutes to bypass red lights and keep the them moving. Rather than relying on an infrared system, the new technology uses a device on the bus to relay a constant stream of information to the system's network, most important being a bus's speed and estimated time of arrival. The system also collects other information, for example, how long buses stay stopped, or how often they deploy ramps for mobility devices. By collecting information about traffic patterns and bus movements, the system is able to adapt over time. TriMet will also have access to the raw data, which will help fine-tune schedule reliability in the future.

"LYT has revolutionized the traditional traffic signal and unlocks the power that's inside each signal to influence the decisioning and operations of that signal in the cloud using artificial intelligence," Menard said. "By leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence to tap into what's happening at the street level, LYT is making signals operate more efficiently and smarter. LYT's solutions are offered and implemented very quickly for entire cities. With this advancement, cities and their residents will begin looking at traffic signals as 'go lights' as opposed to 'stop lights.'"

A.J. O'Connor is the Director of Intelligent Transportation Systems at TriMet.

"Every TriMet bus is sending at a very high frequency everything that we know about that bus to the cloud via cellular," O'Connor said. "They then are transmitting an eta to the regional traffic partners network, which is then passed to the indivi intersection and basically marks a request of the traffic signal to grant transit signal priority. The goal of course for this project is to provide an opportunity for the bus to get through every signal without ever stopping at a red light."

Mark Haines is a signal and traffic engineer with the Portland Bureau of Transportation.

"The goal (of transit signal priority) for this project is to provide an opportunity for the buses to get through every signal without ever stopping at a red light," Haines said. "Our team has programmed it to use that information to provide not just transit signal priority, but we're also providing priority to pedestrian movements to be able to get people to the transit stop itself."COURTESY IMAGE: TRIMET - Lyt software solutions are being installed in TriMet's Frequent Express as part of its Division Transit Project. The new tech will help the busses get priority at stoplights.

The tech will use real-time data track the buses, and artificial intelligence to time the signals —whereas the old tech used line-of-sight tracking.

"The hope is that this goes really well, we can work out the kinks and then move on to other corridors," O'Connor said. "With the new system, we are going to be collecting way more data than we do now. As we collect this data, it will allow TriMet to fine-tune that schedule and improve the overall reliability and on-time performance of all our buses.


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