The City of Rock Hill, South Carolina has been transit-less for years, until now. The city of 70,000 leapfrogged traditional, diesel transit vehicles and will be rolling out a new fleet of electric buses this summer offering free rides, Wi-fi, USB charging ports and TripSpark’s newest product offering – MyRide Infotainment.
“We go above and beyond with our public service projects. The city’s philosophy is that if we are going to do something, we are going to go above and beyond expectations and make an impact,” said Katie Quinn, Communications Manager for The City of Rock Hill. The same goes for the new four-route, seven-bus transit system. “We felt offering high tech services at no cost to riders was important because not many transit agencies had these services available.”
Rock Hill knew from the get-go that they wanted to add an infotainment system in their new fleet. They chose Streets scheduling and routing fixed route software, and the MyRide real-time passenger information app and infotainment system. TripSpark has partnered with Message Point Media (MPM) to integrate MyRide and Streets together with MPM’s leading infotainment system, to provide a streamlined digital signage solution.
“MyRide Infotainment is a way to engage riders with information about the city and upcoming stops,” Quinn said.
“We felt good because there are so many options for customizations. We liked the idea of the geolocation feature, so we can show different content, on different buses at different times and locations.”
MyRide Infotainment improves passenger awareness of real-time status and travel options, helping riders make informed travel choices, save time and enjoy their commute. Real-time information from Streets (TripSpark’s Fixed Route software) is pushed to MyRide Infotainment and the MyRide app, giving riders access to important trip and wayfinding information.
The ridership of Rock Hill’s transit system will include visitors, students and zero-car local households. The city has 31 sports facilities and parks, with a strong sports tourism industry. Nearby bustling Winthrop University has a student body of 6,000, but the campus is separated from the growing downtown core by a former burned out mill site that is undergoing redevelopment. Students are instead lured to nearby Charlotte City, a 30 minute drive away. The new bus system will connect the university campus to the downtown core. In addition, there are neighborhoods with more than 20 percent of households that do not have access to a private vehicle.
Funding for the transit system comes from FTA funding and the City of Rock Hill, with support from local partners – Winthrop University, Piedmont Medical Center and Family Trust Federal Credit Union.
Though the terms of the agreements vary, in appreciation for financial support, the partners will be recognized on the inside/outside of the buses, at bus shelters, with community messaging displayed on MyRide Infotainment, and a listing on the MyRide app.
The majority of the content will be community awareness messaging (think city services, trash pickup, etc) played on a 15 minute loop. Having a time-limited media package, with a fixed number of participating partners locked in for several years works perfectly for Quinn and her team of two. “We have limited staff,” she said. “We knew that we didn’t have the capability to go pound the pavement and sell advertising.”
Given that Rock Hill only has one staff person familiar with digital signage, Quinn and her team decided to opt for the co-managed support option, of the multiple support options available. With co-managed support, MPM will monitor and manage the infotainment network for Rock Hill, and provide content support to Quinn’s staff
With service scheduled to begin a mere 8 weeks from the time of this interview, Quinn said the deployment was going well.
“MPM has been fantastic,” Quinn said. “Bryan Gilliom [President and CTO of MPM] came onsite and did several demos. He was helpful in setting up the infotainment system back end, and has been very responsive to our questions.”
Stay tuned for a follow up with Rock Hill later this year, once the city has an opportunity to settle in with their new transit system.