Hundreds of conductors on the MBTA's commuter rail system will get iPhones in a push to connect T workers with real-time data that they can use to keep passengers udpated on travel issues.
Keolis, the company that operates the MBTA Commuter Rail system, said the phones were part of a push to "enhance passenger experience." More than 400 handheld devices will be issued to commuter rail conductors and assistant conductors.
The iPhones come programmed with apps specially designed by Keolis with data on schedules, on-time performance, service disruptions and other information of importance to commuter rail passengers, the company said in a press release Monday.
But the phones can't be used to access the Internet, email or non-Keolis apps, the company emphasized. "While conductors can use the devices for calling pre-programmed emergency numbers, they cannot be used for ordinary phone calls," the statement read.
Keolis said the idea for the phones came about because passengers often knew more about travel interruptions than conductors.
“For safety reasons, our on-board staff are not permitted to use their handheld devices while on duty. As a result, our passengers, nearly all of whom carry smart-phones, sometimes knew about incidents or issues before our conductors did, creating frustration for both sides,” said Ric Salvatici, Chief Information Officer for Keolis Commuter Services. “Our goal with this initiative is to insure our teams have the information they need to keep passengers accurately informed about what is going in a more timely manner.”