Volanno’s 2018 Banner Year for Passenger Information Display Systems Program

Volanno had a very successful 2018 implementing 18 Passenger Information Display Systems (PIDS) projects nationally on behalf of the National Passenger Railroad Corporation – commonly known as Amtrak. The team installed and integrated fully-ADA compliant PIDS software and hardware components in these stations throughout the nation.

Since 2014, Volanno’s impact in providing project management, software testing and quality assurance, and implementation management in Amtrak’s National PIDS program has reached a wide range of stations across the United States. Volanno has overseen the installation of more than 600 of these displays and associated components, serving stations ranging in size from small town stations to the New York Penn Station and the Anaheim, CA Station, benefiting more than 10 million riders annually.

The 18 stations deployed in 2018, in the image above, are marked:

1) Tukwila, WA
2) Richmond – Staples Mill, VA
3) Berlin, CT
4) Portland, ME
5) Saco, ME
6) Freeport, ME
7) Brunswick, ME
8) Klamath Falls, OR
9) Jacksonville, FL
10) Carlinville, IL
11) Schenectady, NY
12) Havre, MT
13) Houston, TX
14) La Junta, CO
15) Eugene, OR
16) Tampa, FL
17) Williston, ND
18) Albany, NY

Through the PIDS program, Amtrak improves customer experience with integrated audio-visual messaging regarding train service (arrival and departure times, gate and track assignments, boarding locations, stops and train status), general announcements (passenger paging, emergency messages), and customized communications. To station customers, these PIDS displays provide a memorable, user friendly, and informative customer experience through bright LCDs, synchronized audio and visual messaging, and strategic placement throughout each station.

ADA Compliance

The landmark Americans with Disabilities (ADA) civil rights law was signed on July 26, 1990, to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life or areas open to the general public, including throughout the transportation industry. As such, rail carriers, including, Amtrak, are required to make all rail station facilities including station structure, platform, and parking facilities, readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. As per ADA law, Amtrak has taken the measures to make all aspects of the stations more accessible through renovations, installations, new signage, and PIDS to provide synchronized audio-visual messaging.

Accessibility & Innovation

Traditional rail station signage, such as split-flap boards (also known as the Solari boards), can rouse nostalgic and vintage memories of stations of yesteryear. But the charms of these boards are unable to sustain the volume of information that is needed to be displayed and communicated to passengers and station customers. These vintage boards cannot easily be updated to reflect delays, do not meet the ADA accessibility laws, and are very difficult to maintain.

With such a high volume of station customer traffic, Volanno works with engineering consultants and general contractors to incorporate the wiring, conduit, and mountings needed for our PIDS solutions. Together, we are implementing synchronized audio and visual messaging that can be updated with information updates and are accessible to a wider population of station customers. By managing the entire lifecycle of the Amtrak PIDS program mission, our project managers take a holistic approach by working with Amtrak and stakeholders to determine the unique needs of each station. In some cases, new requirements have been identified where new technologies and functionalities have been implemented to improve the services for the ADA community and Amtrak passengers.

These innovative displays are resolving all of the issues with vintage hardware, and yet retaining the charm and nostalgia of the older stations. In January 2019, Volanno implemented an unobtrusive, small laser projector to display the PIDS content onto the wall of the historically significant Chicago Union Station, which opened in 1925, without adversely affecting the structure of the building.

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About Volanno

Founded in 2003, Volanno Inc., is an award-winning, Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) based in Washington, DC providing software development, data analytics, project management, and technology implementation services to the transportation industry.