Port Authority Transit Corporation Control Center Relocation

Leading-edge facility serves as a long-term home for rapid transit system operations

The Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO) system operates train service between the New Jersey suburbs and the City of Philadelphia, carrying over 38,000 commuters per day out of 13 stations. To maintain customer service and system performance, PATCO needed a new train operations control center. The existing facility was more than four decades old and could not accommodate today’s technology and security needs in a sustainable and upgradeable manner. PATCO also wanted to ensure operational redundancy by maintaining the original center as a backup while relocating this operation to the new facility.

After completing a preliminary study with alternatives analysis, Gannett Fleming provided complete design services for a new, leading-edge control center, including:

  • Plans.
  • Specifications.
  • Cost estimates.

Our work covered all systems, including:

  • Architectural.
  • Structural.
  • Mechanical.
  • Power.
  • Display.
  • Controls.
  • Communications.
  • Safety.
  • Security.

The effort was carefully planned to keep the existing center in operation during construction, minimizing disruption to PATCO employees and rail passengers.

What We Did

The new building’s architecture responds to two user groups that maintain separate operations, and the building’s plan responds to these two distinctly programmatic functions.

The main control center, located on the second floor, has an internally focused, computer-intensive environment. To ensure maximum functionality and comfort for the staff, the team conducted detailed studies of the ergonomic relationships between the computer screens. Views of a large display wall were optimized, and carefully configured consoles equipped with computers and monitors were incorporated into the design.

To mitigate the fatigue often experienced by operators in computer intensive environments, Gannett Fleming included a skylight over the central workspace that is carefully calibrated to avoid glare on computer screens yet provide a connection to the outside world through natural daylighting. In addition, the supervisor’s offices that surround the central space have windows to the exterior that will provide filtered light to the central work area, again providing relief to the workers.

The team designed the center’s ground floor to serve as a base of operations for train conductors and management staff. Durable materials throughout the building, including masonry for the base and insulated metal panels for the second story, add to the structure’s strength and longevity. The center is expected to be in service for at least the next 50 years.

Key Features

  • Materials in interior finishes meet a high sound-absorption coefficient to minimize noise.
  • An insulated, translucent skylight invites daylighting into the control center to enhance the employee environment but is carefully designed to avoid screen glares on monitors from the natural light.
  • Features a dedicated centralized traffic control (CTC)/supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) isolated, secure, and high bandwidth network.
  • Integration into PATCO’s existing and systemwide radio, video surveillance, access control, and public address systems.
OUTCOMES

Improved rail service for 38,000 daily commuters.

Expected 50-year service life for new control center.

Enhanced comfort and efficient work environment for staff.