Applications for 'Digital Assistant: interactive passenger-facing solution ' are closed

Digital Assistant: interactive passenger-facing solution

The Agency, Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit), is seeking an accessible, easy to use and comprehensive solution to combine trip planning, real-time information, interactive support and fare payment for our passengers who use Sound Transit services, including passengers who use assistive technology or who do not have access to smartphones.

Applications are closed
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The Agency, Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit), is seeking an accessible, easy to use and comprehensive solution to combine trip planning, real-time information, interactive support and fare payment for our passengers who use Sound Transit services, including passengers who use assistive technology or who do not have access to smartphones.


Meeting: December 3, 2021 at 9:00AM PST. The Teams meeting will launch at 8:45AM and begin at 9:00AM.

This is a pre-proposal meeting for the Challenge solicitation: RP 0144-21, Digital Assistant: interactive passenger-facing solution.  All vendor Requests for Information are to be submitted to the City Innovate portal for this Challenge.

Although a question may be answered at the pre-proposal meeting, the original RFP documents (Challenge documents) remain intact unless changed through a formal Addendum.  Therefore, Proposers are advised not to rely on oral interpretations, even if made by Sound Transit staff or Consultants.
Teams Meeting Link:
 Microsoft Teams meeting 
Join on your computer or mobile app
Or call in (audio only) 
+1 206-485-1387,,395949994#  United States, Seattle 
Phone Conference ID: 395 949 994# 


Sound Transit (the "Agency") currently provides trip planning services on a responsive website and offers real-time service information such as arrivals and alerts for ST Express bus and Link Light Rail via API. The Agency’s Passenger Information Management System will begin delivering real-time arrival information and alerts for Sounder and Tacoma Link within three years. Service alerts for all modes are also distributed via email, SMS and Twitter. 

Passenger support is currently facilitated via phone or email interaction and passengers may pay fares with cash or an ORCA card. In 2022, next generation ORCA will launch and, shortly thereafter, passengers will have the option of paying fares via smartphone application or mobile wallet. The next generation ORCA solution was designed with open architecture that will allow for future API development to accommodate integrations.


Trip Planning

  1. The Agency’s current trip planner does not include real-time information such as elevator or escalator status, parking and bike locker availability or typical crowding conditions in trip plans, as these data sources are currently unavailable. When they do become available, that data will need to be disseminated to passengers in trip plans. 
  2. Wayfinding through Sound Transit stations can be confusing for passengers. In 2021, Sound Transit plans to develop a GTFS (General Transit Feed Specification)-Pathways data set to facilitate navigation through Agency facilities.   
  3. The Agency’s current tool does not incorporate all options for completing the first/last mile of a passenger journey that connects to transit, (e.g. MaaS (Mobility as a Service)).

Accessibility and Translation

  1. The Agency's current offerings are not fully accessible.
  2. Existing tools provide limited support for passengers who do not speak English or who are limited in English proficiency.

Notifications and Alerts

  1. The Agency does not currently provide passengers with the ability to customize alert preferences and is limited to providing email and SMS (text message) alerts.
  2. SMS notifications incur transaction/interaction based charges that can grow unexpectedly (e.g. In 2020, we planned for 10 million messages and sent 18 million SMS messages).

Interactive support 

  1. The Agengy's existing support model relies on staff to answer passenger questions. This will not scale as the transit system and ridership grows.
  2. Existing interactive SMS-based arrival information is hard to use and not consistent across the region.


  1. It is difficult for a passenger to understand how much a trip with transfers across agencies will cost based on their user type (e.g. adult, youth, ORCA Lift (reduced rate), senior) or whether they can use their ORCA card across all modes.
  2. Agency systems do not currently integrate with ORCA.

Identity management, authentication and personalization 

  1. The Agency does not currently provide a personalized solution.

Data and Usage

  1. Data Analytics: Current passenger tools and services offer little valuable data to the Agency for analysis. The Agency is interested in better understanding travel patterns within the Sound Transit district.
  2. Survey supportSound Transit does not currently have a way to deliver targeted opportunistic “pulse” surveys to passengers to assess aspects of passenger experience such as passenger satisfaction with a specific leg of their trip or travel needs.
  3. Interaction analytics: The Agency does not currently have an automated way to segment passenger interactions into useful categories, such as number of interactions facilitated through translation or number of inquiries answered about vehicle accessibility. 

Operating Environment



Future Desire 

Accessible navigation/wayfinding 

CommonPaths/OpenSidewalks (CT) 

GTFS-Pathways (ST) 


Granicus (Several) 


Fare information 

Website (ORCA) 
In-house system (WSF) 

GTFS-Fares (ORCA/All) 

Fare payment 






On-demand/Fixed Route 



Performance and Analytics 

MS SQL data warehouse (ST) 
Snowflake data warehouse (CT) 
PowerBI (ST) 
Tableau (CT) 

Azure (ST) 

Real-time data 

GTFS-RT (Several) 
In-house API (WSF) 





Schedule data 

GTFS (Several) 
In-house API (WSF) 


Trip planning 

ATIS (Several) 
OpenTripPlanner (ST) 

OpenTripPlanner (CT, KCM) 

Limited eligibility services 


GTFS-Eligibilities (KCM) 


Drupal (ST) 


CRM (account & ticket tracking) 

Connections (CT) 
MS Dynamics (ST) 

Salesforce (KCM) 


Stop/Facility management 

Peoplesoft Bus Stop Inventory (CT) 

Station/Stop API (ST) 
Elevator/Escalator Status API (ST) 
Parking API (ST) 
Bike Storage API (ST) 



The solution must meet or exceed General Services Administration, Rehabilitation Act 1973, Section 508 Compliance and WCAG 2.0 functional performance.

Requirements & Outcome

The Agency is seeking an innovative solution with the following requirements and outcomes:

The solution will deliver targeted information and services at multiple interaction points along the passenger journey, making it easy for passengers to understand options for accessing and riding transit and to receive information about impacts to their journey. 

Priority Outcomes


  • Passengers can interact with the solution in their preferred language or via assistive technologies (e.g. screen reader).
  • The solution is available and consistent through multiple channels, including web, mobile device and in-station touch screens.
  • Passenger can get questions answered throughout their research and journey, including through integration of AI backed support via website, SMS or phone and escalation to Agency Passenger Care personnel.
  • Agency Passenger Care personnel have access to data driving the AI responses and can adjust responses
  • Solution can incorporate new data when it becomes available (e.g. elevator status, available parking and available bike storage).
  • Costs to the agency are well understood and controlled as the transit system and ridership expands.
  • Solution uses UI/UX best practices, universal design principles and user testing demonstrates that it is easy for passengers and staff to use. 

Trip Planning

  • Passengers can plan and track their journey from origin to destination using multiple regional transit agencies and modes. 
  • Trip plans include accurate walking or step-free navigation (wayfinding information) instructions.
  • Passengers can specify trip preferences (e.g. by origin/destination, step-free route, minimize transfers).
  • Passengers understand transfer options and can use real-time information to make connections.
  • Passengers can include MaaS options in their trip plans. 
  • Passenger is provided with real-time data about trips.


  • Passengers are alerted to conditions that could impact their travel. 
  • Passengers can specify notification preferences (e.g. contact method, time of day, route, location). 
  • Provide multiple channels for alert dissemination (e.g. email, SMS, push notifications, Twitter).


  • Passenger understands the complete cost of their trip for their user type. 
  • Passengers are able to pay for each segment of their trip.
  • Integrate with internal and external payment systems (e.g. ORCA, Transit Go Ticket)


  • The Agency can access data and generate insights based on passenger travel patterns and interactions with the Digital Assistant.
  • Passenger understands what data is collected, how it is used, how long it is retained and who has access to it.
  • Passenger can opt out of data collection and use tool anonymously.
  • Upon request from passenger, all data collected on them is deleted.

Documentation and Training

  • Solution offers training for passengers and agency staff.
  • Solution has system documentation. 


  • System is available to use and performs. 
  • System is well supported. Issues are tracked and corrected in a timely manner. 
  • Regular maintenance and patching is performed. 
  • Solution will scale as transit system and ridership grows. 
  • Development lifecycle incorporates appropriate testing and change management processes. 
  • Solution can weather a business disruption. 

Desired Outcomes

  • Offer dynamic re-routing options for passengers based on real-time information
  • Passengers can pay for each segment of their trip
  • Passengers using a TNC or micromobility option to access transit can pay for their entire journey using the solution. 
  • Allow authentication across system (e.g. Digital Assistant, agency CRM, ORCA).
  • Integrated systems can be swapped without major re-coding (e.g. replacing the trip planning engine, CRM system, or AI backend).
  • Integrate with systems that allow passengers to access transit arrival and alert information using call, text, or chat.
  • Allow for future integrations not yet identified. 
  • Solution data can be incorporated into agency Data and Analytics platform.

AI/ML, CRM / Application Management, Communications, Data Analytics, Data Collection, Data Privacy, Equity, Geo Services, IoT, Mobile App, Mobility, Natural Language Processing, and Payments / Lending


Budget Exists

Application Period

November 19 through January 18, 2022 at 2:00 PM (GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Q&A Period

November 19 through December 8, 2021 at 2:00 PM (GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

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Applications are closed

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