Valley Metro: Driving Communications

The Greater Roanoke Transit Company, known locally as Valley Metro, is a private, non-profit public service organization wholly owned by the City of Roanoke, Virginia. Operations began in 1975, and today Valley Metro provides approximately 2,100,000 passenger trips annually to the residents of the Roanoke Valley on their fixed route and commuter bus services.

The company is headquartered in the Roy Z. Meador Operations, Maintenance and Administrative Facility, which houses the management offices, as well as the Transportation, Administrative and Maintenance departments. The 70,000 square foot two-level facility also features a shop and garage area with automatic bus wash and indoor parking for the fleet of 42 buses.

The Administrative, Transportation, and Maintenance offices are located on the second level of the facility, as are the Dispatch Center, conference rooms and employee lounge. The lounge is the nexus of the organization where employees and drivers gather throughout the day to collect their assignments, catch up on what’s happening at Valley Metro and relax.

Chip Holdren, Assistant General Manager, explains, “We had old dry erase boards on the walls of the employee lounge, but they were hard to maintain and often ignored. We approached a local AV dealer, Lee Hartman & Sons, for recommendations.” The solution presented was the AxisTV digital signage system.

“AxisTV met all of our needs so we didn’t have to shop around,” comments Holdren. Valley Metro implemented the system last October. They are running AxisTV with a content server and media player feeding a 50-inch display in the employee lounge. “The digital signage really grabs people’s attention. It used to be that important messages were overlooked on the boards, but now the color, motion and activity pull eyes to the screen. It’s the first thing people look at when they walk in the door,” says Holdren.

The company posts messages in two on-screen zones, while a third broadcasts programs like CNN Headline News and the Weather Channel. A bottom ticker publishes local weather conditions and posts the daily preventable accident record (number of days without accidents).

Holdren and several designated Transportation Supervisors create messages within AxisTV using ready-made templates and simple design tools, as well as importing graphics directly into the CMS. The team publishes communications including Human Resources announcements, employee notices, safety messages, driving alerts and detours, as well as local event and concert notices. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from the drivers. They like the more technologically advanced approach,” comments Holdren.

Valley Metro also purchased a software support subscription for their AxisTV system, providing expedited service support and free software upgrades. “So far, we’ve had no problems with the system. We needed a little help to get everything up and Visix helped us with that. Things have run smoothly since the system came on line. Still, it’s good to have the support agreement to rely on.”

Valley Metro is enthusiastic about implementing AxisTV in the passenger areas of Campbell Court Transportation Center, the main passenger terminal. “We want to show passenger announcements, safety information, weather updates, bus schedules and alerts, as well as TV programs,” continues Holdren. “It will be a great way to deliver information and entertainment to enhance the passenger experience.”

Holdren is pleased with both employees’ adoption of the technology and the system’s performance. He expands, “AxisTV is a huge improvement. The technology really grabs attention and we know people are getting the information.”