Can You Hear Me?

Digital radio in New Milford

NEW MILFORD – In a bid to improve communication between New Milford drivers and their dispatcher, All-Star Transportation and the Town of New Milford have combined resources to install a new digital radio system that went into operation the day after the Presidents Day holiday.

“Today was the first day, and so far, so good,” said New Milford Manager Jeff Woods. “We’re getting good reception, we’re hearing from buses that in the past we were lucky if we heard static.”

Work on the new system began months ago with new radios installed in buses, and a new base station and antenna installed at the terminal. A repeater also was installed on a town-owned tower located on a nearby hill to extend the reach of the radio into Sherman and the Gaylordsville section of  northern New Milford. When agreeing to allow the repeater to be installed on one of its towers, the town also provided All-Star with one of its digital channels on its communication system.

“It facilitates better safety,” explained John Pecha, All-Star’s director of safety and a former New Milford police officer. “Now that we are on the town frequency, police will be able to monitor” radio chatter, if needed.

With the previous analog radio system, there were many dead spots, making it difficult for some of New Milford’s 78 buses and the dispatcher to connect. This was particularly true in Sherman and Gaylordsville, due both to the distance and the hilly terrain. This required other buses that heard a call from Sherman or Gaylordsville to dispatch to relay messages on behalf of the Sherman and Gaylordsville drivers.

“Happily, this system will solve that,” Pecha said.

“The new home base also tells you which bus is calling by, displaying the number of the bus,” Woods said. “This is helpful if we don’t hear clearly.”