Major Transit Agency Upgrades to Reliable LTE Wireless for Improved Operations & In-Vehicle Wi-Fi

Solution: Service for Mobile | Industry: Public Transportation | Use Case: Location-Based LTE Technologies


Situation & Challenge

King County Metro is the major transit agency that operates out of Seattle. They had suffered from frequently dropped connections, difficulty using real-time GPS, Auto Vehicle Location (AVL), and other critical operational technologies due to unreliable, non-LTE networks. The agency’s small IT team knew that firmware updates, troubleshooting, and managing installations proved an immense challenge without a scalable, cloud-based management platform.


Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Service for Mobile and wireless LTE routers proved to be a comprehensive solution. Designed specifically for the unique needs of a vehicle – including routing, GPS, AVL integration, and centralized network management, this service soon made its way into all metro buses and select bus stops.


Real-time analytics gathered from the extensive LTE connectivity traveling through a wide range of sensors and devices are able to substantially increase the passenger experience expected of a major transit agency.

Meet the Customer 

King County Metro is the largest public transportation agency in Washington and the 7th-largest in America, serving more than 2.25 million people across the cities of Seattle, Redmond, and Bellevue. Each year King County Metro delivers more than 130 million rides through a variety of mobility options, a part of which includes fixed-route bus services composed of more than 1,750 metro buses.

For an agency driven by the ideal that “Mobility is a human right,” providing anything less than industry-leading service has never been an option. For metro bus connectivity, King County Metro had been using licensed 4.9 GHz network connections — an under-utilized public safety band set aside by the FCC 20 years ago — with equipment that was approaching end-of-life support.


Public Transportation Agency in America

King County, WA


Real-Time Data Solutions

Modern travelers expect solid Wi-Fi, real-time location updates, and accurate arrival times at every stage of their journey. This is only possible to implement with a continuous network connection. Technologies like the fare payment system, which uses prepaid cards, also require a continuous network connection to transmit and receive balance updates to a traveler’s card.

Complexity of Fleetwide Network Management

With hundreds of buses, equipment needed to be physically installed and, once connected to the network, managed by the agency’s lean IT department. This presented a serious logistical challenge: one that would be significantly more complex without a cloud-based central management tool.

Agility Necessary for Consistent Growth

Public transit constantly evolves to fit a population’s needs. Looking to the future, this means moving new and existing buses to additional routes to serve growing neighborhoods and municipalities. The agency also needed a solution that could scale over time to maintain compatibility with, and take advantage of, the latest networking technologies.

"When we upgraded, we looked at either rebuilding the infrastructure with our private Wi-Fi throughout the city and at the bases or moving to LTE. We went with cellular."

Russ Mattichak, Network Engineer, King County Metro



For more than 1,700 metro buses, King County Metro chose to utilize easily accessible and near ubiquitous cellular networks for building a new wireless infrastructure. The agency standardized on Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Service for Mobile and ruggedized IBR1700 wireless LTE routers to keep on-board devices and applications connected, and to enable the IT team to monitor data security and manage and troubleshoot the network from anywhere.

NCM provides a single pane of glass through which the IT team can view easy-to-read connection and security dashboards for actionable insights, and to troubleshoot certain issues remotely instead of in person. This benefits the organization as a whole by increasing workforce efficiency and decreasing operational costs — freeing up resources that allow King County Metro to continue providing industry-leading public transit services.

Streamlined Installation & Setup

King County Metro can quickly add new in-vehicle connectivity through NCM, and by using Cradlepoint Verify, a mobile installation app that helps staff quickly and accurately assemble, set up, and begin using Cradlepoint routers.

Prepared to grow with Cradlepoint’s Gigabit-Class LTE mobile routers featuring integrated Wi-Fi, ethernet and serial ports, and dual-modem capabilities, the agency is fully enabled to adopt new technologies, scale over time, and enhance operational efficiency and on-time service. 

The Perfect Partner

King County was searching for the perfect partner who would be able to efficiently project manage the setup, kitting, and provisioning of over 2,000 units on a tight 3-month deadline. Cradlepoint needed to rely on the right partner they could trust to get the job done for one of their largest public transportation customers to date. RCN Technologies was able to deliver not only due to a robust knowledge of Cradlepoint’s solution but also to the purpose-built, high-volume device service center that allots for the provisioning of 60+ devices at the same time. Both King County and Cradlepoint were confident RCN could get the job done.

"There are not many companies like RCN with the project management chops to deliver on over 2,000+ Cradlepoint routers. Not only did our team personally manage every SIM card, asset tag, NetCloud Manager configuration, and deadline, but we had fun doing it. At the end of the day, I feel so honored that RCN played a critical role in helping King County Transit upgrade their connectivity capabilities in a big way.”

Reed Perryman

Director, Public Sales, RCN Technologies

Real-World Solution Benefits

for Mass Transit

Mobile Wi-Fi Access

Real-Time Vehicle Location Updates


Accurate Arrival Times


Remote System Management & Updates in Single Pane of Glass


Enterprise Security

Future Expansion & Scalable Capabilities

RCN Technologies Can Help with Wireless Solutions

RCN Technologies has spent years developing a user friendly experience that has the right product priced value engineering for your business. We are specialists in the LTE and 5G wireless technology space and have worked with major metropolitan transportation agencies such as New York MTA, Chicago Transit Authority, and more.

Our goal is to keep our solutions simple for your business needs. We work with you to make sure that your business has the right products to keep you ready for tomorrow. Call 865.293.0350 today to see what we can do for you!

Have a question or want more information? Complete the form below to find out how we can simplify your IT needs!

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