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How tech keeps Seattle’s transit system running — and why more innovation could be coming

Published on August 29, 2019

King County Metro Low Floor 40' HEV.
King County Metro Low Floor 40' HEV. Image Credit: Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0

Amid a sea of green rectangles on a computer monitor, one had turned red. A RapidRide bus — the red rectangle — was traveling a bit too rapidly.

It was almost 11 a.m. on Friday, August 23 in the King County Metro Transit Control Center (TCC). Coordinators sat in front of large monitors, tracking the county’s GPS-enabled buses and communicating with drivers as needed.

During peak weekday hours, seven bus coordinators manage the flow of buses at large desks with several monitors. They respond to alerts about emergencies on the road and are able to tweak bus schedules, adding or removing trips when required.

US Rep. Suzan DelBene hosted a tour of the TCC and a roundtable discussion Friday about the future of “smart cities” with other experts on tech and policy, including Bill Howe, associate professor at the Information School, and adjunct associate professor of computer science & engineering and electrical engineering at UW. DelBene and Sen. Maria Cantwell introduced a bill in Congress in May that seeks $1.1 billion in federal funding over five years for smart city technologies.


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Originally written by Aria Thaker for GeekWire.
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