Tag Archives: Opticom

Opticom misuse alleged by readers

The in basket: Mention in the recent Road Warrior column about Kitsap Transit policy that its drivers aren’t the use the Opticom emitter system to change traffic signals to green as they approach unless they are behind schedule brought two similar comments.

Jane Rebelowski said, “The buses use it when leaving the transfer station off of Wheaton Way. How could they possibly be late if I just saw them sitting in the parking lot for 10 minutes?”

And Colleen Smidt wrote, “There must be a heck of a lot of buses behind schedule as they are entering and leaving the transfer complex on Auto Center Way. It is easy to watch all of this play out as I am sitting in the backup at the exit light at the end of the southbound ramp trying to make a left onto Kitsap Way around 4:50 in the afternoon.

“Several times a month the backup from the lights being out of rotation from the buses has traffic backed up onto the shoulder of the highway, making for very unsafe traffic conditions.

I asked Transit management to explain.

The out basket: Transit Executive Director John Clauson replies, “I do not have a reason why nor, until now, was I aware that this was going on with the regularity your reader suggests. Have you heard of this problem at this intersection, at this time of day from many others?

“I know that when a person has to travel each day in what is considered heavy traffic, any delay feels like hours and becomes a major concern. I’m sure your reader wonders if it is really needed or fair.

“I will have folks look into what is going on here and deal with it as needed,” John said.

Those wanting to answer John’s question about others seeing this, you can go online at kitsapsun.com and comment at the bottom of this column on the Road Warrior blog.

Bootleg traffic signal changers targeted by Opticom upgrade

The in basket: For a couple of decades, Kitsap Transit buses and police and other emergency vehicles have had the capacity to change red lights to green in Bremerton and around the county as they approach.

But some private citizens have acquired equipment online or otherwise that enables them to do the same thing, though they aren’t supposed to and it’s probably illegal.

Tom Baker of the city of Bremerton electronics shop, told me, “There are emitters available on eBay that will work with the Opticom. I have seen signals pre-empted with no bus near by, so there are non-authorized users out there.”

If you are one of them, you may find yourself frustrated in Bremerton, where new digital controls have been substituted for the old ones this year, intended to prevent unauthorized use of bootleg emitters.

I learned this was afoot from Mike Singson of Advanced Traffic Products, which sold the old Opticom equipment back when it was first installed and was still around to help with the update. I encountered him at a big electronics convention at Sea-Tac in February.

The out basket: Wendy Clark-Getzin, Kitsap Transit’s capital development director (for another week or so) says it kicked in $31,000 to go with in-kind labor and services from the city to go with federal money that added up to the $200,000 project cost. It was finished April 30, she said.

In addition to ending unauthorized use of the signal changing equipment, it will reduce maintenance costs and replace some aging controller equipment,” she said.

She credited Jeff Collins of the city electronics shop with making the money stretch as far as it went, and former city engineer Mike Mecham for getting the money in the first place.

The work stops short of modernizing Opticom to the max, says Mike Singson. It’s capable of using GPS to track the buses and keep track of whether they are on time, taking changing of the lights out of the hands of the bus drivers, he said. They’re not supposed to use Opticom if they aren’t behind schedule.

Kitsap’s system won’t be using GPS any time soon and those behind the wheel of the buses still will be able to change the light to green.

You may wonder why Wendy will remain capital development director for only a short time. She will leave to become general manager of Clallam County Transit July 1, she tells me.