Union Station is the largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western United States. Serving more than 60,000 passengers a day, the station is the region’s primary transit hub, connecting Southern California counties and providing access to Amtrak long distance trains, Amtrak California regional trains, Metrolink commuter trains, Metro Rail subway and light rail lines, plus bus service from Metro and other municipal operators. Greyhound’s Bolt service, Megabus, and the LAX Flyaway also operate from the station.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority purchased the iconic downtown LA station in 2011 and is working on a Master Plan to implement wide ranging improvements to the facility, with a primary focus on passenger service and satisfaction.
Jenna Hornstock, deputy executive officer, Countywide Planning & Development, New Mobility Regional Initiatives, was charged with overseeing design of the new environmental graphics package and identifying opportune places for integration of new technology. Part of the many-phased plan was an eye-catching 17-foot digital information tower to be installed in Union Station East.
“Our goal for the tower was to provide customer-facing information that would help visitors navigate more easily throughout the station,” said Hornstock.
Concurrent with development of the new environmental graphics package, plans were being made to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the historic station’s opening day. With a large number of participants expected, along with focused media attention, this event was identified as the ideal time to roll out the new information tower. The problem: the tower wasn’t scheduled for completion this soon. Plus, the initial plan specified static LED screens. This occasion called for something more dynamic.
Metro’s IT Services had been investigating options for electronic digital signage since mid-2011, working closely with the Communications team on content development. A pilot featuring a ViewSonic EP5555 55" free-standing dual sided ePoster digital kiosk was receiving positive feedback, and the team had begun testing a touch-enabled ViewSonic EP5555T 55" free-standing ePoster digital kiosk, which was targeted to become an Interactive Station Guide for eventual use throughout Union Station and Metro’s 100 or so other locations.
“We worked closely with our reps at ViewSonic and Cisco and got the equipment to talk to each other nicely,” said Nelson Quan, IT services configuration manager. “Cisco mocked up the concept, with zones on the display – an advertizing zone, interactive zone, a button bar for choosing different items, links to pages on our website, things like that.”.
Quan’s team looked at competitive options for the displays, but ultimately chose the ViewSonic CDP5560-TL 55" narrow bezel large format displays to fill the critical interactive role on each of the four sides of the tower. With a robust four-camera optical touch system and 6-point multi-touch functionality, the CDP5560-TL displays offered the ideal combination of interactive capabilities, high brightness, and durability needed for the intense 24x7 operation that Metro’s application called for. Plus, Quan was confident that ViewSonic could meet their tight deadline.
“We had been working with ViewSonic for many years. They are one of the largest display installations in our agency and we have a good track record with them,” said Quan. “Sure there are many other manufacturers out there, but we knew we could count on ViewSonic based on our history with them.”