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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the PC-Travel Software Suite?
It is several separate programs used together to do travel time and delay studies and level of service studies. You get the software that is used to collect the data in the field and you get the analysis and reporting software that processes the field data. Most customers will use GPS2LT and GPS2PDA which use standard GPS receivers with laptops or PDAs to collect your field data, but you can also use OBD2LT and OBD2PDA, which uses commercially available OBD-II Interfaces with laptops or PDAs or you can collect field data using a Jamar TDC board with a transmission sensor used with Distance Measuring Instruments. There are two analysis programs; PC-Travel which is used to process field data for travel time and delay studies, and PC-LOS which is used to do Level of Service studies at signalized intersections. You get all of this software when you buy the PC-Travel Software Suite.

How much does it cost?
$995 for new customers.
If you are an educational institution and use the software in your teaching or research, then there is a $200 discount.
Upgrades for current PC-Travel for Windows Version 1 users are $295.

Do I need a separate license for each vehicle or computer?
No. The software is sold with a “site license” which means you can run any of the software programs on as many different computers as you want at the same time as long as all of the computers are part of the same office or site. Obviously the field software can be run outside the office as long as it still part of the same site. For example, if you are a consultant and you have two offices, you need separate licenses for each office; you can’t share one license between the two offices. If you aren’t sure what this means for you then just call and we can discuss it.

Is this the same software that Jamar sold?
Yes. Ridge Engineering developed PC-Travel for Jamar in 2001 and did most of the support since then. Recently Jamar decided they no longer needed outside contractors so the relationship with Ridge ended (very amicably). Jamar also didn’t want to further develop and support PC-Travel so Ridge bought it. Now Ridge will develop, market, sell, and support the software. This site, and version two of the software is the result.

I already have PC-Travel version 1; do I have to upgrade?
No. We will continue to support all current users of PC-Travel version 1. Of course, no new features will be added to version 1, to get them you will need to upgrade. There are several advantages to upgrading, with the mapping feature certainly the most compelling. However, even if you don’t use GPS to collect your data, which means you can’t use the new mapping features, there still are new features (and more to come) that would make the upgrade worth the $195 cost. Click here for more information on the new features in Version2.

How does the new mapping feature simplify PC-Travel?
In two ways. First, it simplifies the data collection methodology. You don’t have to be as ‘fussy’ about where you start and end runs and you don’t have to mark ‘nodes’ while you drive. This makes the data  collection simpler and safer than in previous versions. Second, it simplifies the data analysis since you can edit your runs on a map and easily trim the start and end of each run and mark nodes wherever you want. Each run is completely verifiable; you can make sure the run you think was done at a certain location was actually done there, that the driver drove properly and responsibly (no food breaks in the middle of a run), and that the run started and ended at the proper locations. Bad delays that aren’t typical are easy to see since the speed of the vehicle is shown in different colors. All of these advantages means your travel time data will be more accurate and easy to validate.

Where do I get the street maps I need?
Currently there are three ways to get maps. You can use MapPoint, which is the GIS program sold by Microsoft. MapPoint includes street maps of North America. You can use your own street maps if you have ESRI’s ArcGIS software, or you can download the maps for free from the US Census Bureau. Appendix 1 of the PC-Travel Manual (available here) explains these options in detail.

Where can I get GPS receivers?
Just about any standard GPS receiver can be used with PC-Travel. We can sell you receivers, but frankly we would rather you bought your own. We have to charge extra to cover the extra shipping charges (from the web site to us, then on to you). If you can’t easily buy products on the Internet (or it is more hassle then it is worth) then we will gladly sell you what you need. If you want to save a few bucks, then buy your own. Check the Links page for links to sites where you can buy new receivers. You can also check the For Sale pages for receivers we may have in stock.

Can one person safely collect the data in the field?
If you use GPS receivers to collect your data, which means you will use the mapping options to edit your data, then you can easily and safely have one person collect the data. This is because you can have the driver start each run with the car stopped and off the road, merge into traffic and drive the entire route without looking at or touching the laptop or PDA, and end the run with the car stopped and off the road. The driver never has to look at the laptop or PDA or press any keys while driving. Using other data collection options (OBD Interface or Jamar TDC board) you need to mark nodes and start and end runs relatively precisely. We suggest you use two people in the car for these studies.

Should I use laptops or PDAs to collect my data?
Most customers use laptops since they typically have one or more available. Laptops are also a little easier to use if you have never used PDAs since you don’t have to learn how to use the PDA as well as the software. Interfacing GPS receivers to laptops is also a little easier since you don’t have to worry about special cables that only work with one type of PDA. If you already have Palm or Pocket-PC PDAs and know how to use them then they will work fine. The obvious difference between laptops and PDAs, the screen size, really isn’t much of a factor since typically you don’t have to interact with the laptop or PDA much while in the field (see previous question).

Can I use my smartphone to collect the field data?
Sometimes, but usually no. It has to have either a Palm OS or a Pocket PC OS; that eliminates most phones. It has to have the correct size screen, which kicks out a few more, and it has to have a Bluetooth client with the right properties. Contact us and we can check and let you know.

What is PC-LOS?
PC-LOS is the office software used to directly measure Level Of Service at a signalized intersection. (If you don’t know what this means, then this software probably isn’t for you.) This is indirectly related to PC-Travel since you can use the same field software (GPS2LT, for example) to collect the data. Travel time studies normally are done on a series of intersections along one arterial. LOS studies are just done at one intersection, but the techniques to collect the data are similar. In fact, the run files for PC-LOS are identical in format to run files for PC-Travel. This is why it is included in the PC-Travel Software Suite. To find more about this topic, click here.