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Keolis Giving MBTA's Commuter Rail Conductors 400 Specialized iPhones

BOSTON (CBS) -- The MBTA's commuter rail conductors are getting an information technology upgrade in the form of a specially designed iPhone.

"They are restricted so they can only do what we need them to do," says Ric Salvatici, chief information officer for Keolis Commuter Services, which operates the commuter rail.

MBTA Commuter Rail
MBTA commuter rail (WBZ-TV)

Using the "mobile computing devices," conductors can access real-time data on service disruptions, train schedules, on-time performance and emergency contacts like the MBTA Police.

MBTA Keolis iPhone
MBTA commuter rail conductors will be able to get detailed information via specially designed iPhones. (WBZ-TV)

"The purpose of this initial roll out is ensure they have the same information, if not better than what our passengers have through their smartphones and open data they receive through their apps," Salvatici says.

Conductors and assistants will not be able to access the internet, their email or anything unrelated to Keolis operations.

"Passengers often had information before (conductors) do," Salvatici said. "We started off in July 2014 and really, what we focused on was improving our internal communication to get what we call 'the single version of the truth.'"

Keolis won the eight-year contract to operate the commuter rail in 2014. Following a disastrous performance during the winter of 2015, the company was handed millions of dollars in fines and a list of things to improve from state regulators.

When asked how much Keolis spent to purchase and program the 400 mobile devices, the company declined to comment, but they did say it took a couple months to develop the conductor's new app, which is similar to their passenger app already available to riders.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Doug Cope reports

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