Customers to Get Bus Location and Estimated Arrival Time
Mayor Richard M. Daley and Chicago Transit Authority officials today launched the Bus Tracker pilot program that tracks CTA buses in real time and provides estimated bus arrival times for customers. CTA officials demonstrated the Bus Tracker system today, which uses global positioning satellite (GPS) technology to identify bus locations and provides that information to bus customers via a dedicated web site and a bus shelter display. Knowing when a bus is expected to arrive ultimately reduces wait times, which enhances the overall bus travel experience.
"The innovative application of technology to improve service reliability makes traveling around Chicago more convenient and pleasant for CTA customers," said Mayor Richard M. Daley. ?Chicago is an international city that attracts millions of visitors each year and it is the use of systems such as Bus Tracker that continue to make the City an attractive destination for tourists."
CTA is testing Bus Tracker on buses and one bus shelter along the #20 Madison bus route operating on Madison and Washington between the Loop and Austin Avenue at Chicago's western border. The #X20 Washington/Madison Express is not part of the pilot. To provide information to customers, CTA has developed a web site at www.ctabustracker.com and installed a light emitting diode (LED) display in the westbound bus shelter located on Madison at Jefferson.
"CTA is putting modern technology to work to improve service reliability and customer satisfaction," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?The Bus Tracker system will allow customers to better plan their travel and minimize their waits by communicating where buses are along a route and when they are expected to arrive at a designated bus stop."
Customers can access the Bus Tracker web site from their computers and web-enabled personal digital assistants (PDAs). (BlackBerry? users must have version 4.1 or higher.) The PDAs must have full Internet access capabilities through web browsers that support HyperText Markup Language (HTML) such as Internet Explorer?
Customers who use PDAs will be able to access the estimated arrival time display only. Cell phone users should contact their wireless service providers for information on their phone's Internet capabilities.
"These new bus location technologies are central to CTA's efforts to continually improve bus operations and the service CTA provides for its customers," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. ?These technologies not only provide our existing customers with more convenient travel experiences, they will also encourage new riders as more customers discover the benefits of public transit."
The Bus Tracker web site provides a route map with icons indicating the location and direction of each bus currently in service along the route and estimated arrival times for bus stops along the route. Customers can choose to activate an alarm that will alert them when a bus is approaching their stop.
"If your bus stop is a five-minute walk from your residence, Bus Tracker has a feature that allows you to set up an alert when the bus is at a location approximately five minutes
away," added Kruesi. ?This notifies the customer in time for them to leave the house and arrive at the stop in time to catch the bus."
For customers at the test bus stop, the bus shelter display provides an estimated arrival time for the route's next two approaching buses, in addition to the time and temperature. Throughout the pilot, CTA will evaluate the performance of the technology and how it functions within CTA's operating environment. In addition, customer feedback regarding the web site and on-site bus shelter information will be considered.
Bus Tracker is the customer notification phase of bus location technology CTA has been developing and implementing in recent years. The new technologies use real-time data to better monitor performance, make service adjustments when needed, respond to unexpected incidents on the streets and provide information on next bus arrival for more convenient and reliable public transportation system.
Two systems already in place are the automated announcement system installed in 2003-04 which gathers information using GPS technology to announce next stop and other route information to customers, and the automated vehicle location system. Data from the automated vehicle location system is analyzed to allow for more detailed tracking of bus performance.
In addition to the new Bus Tracker customer notification pilot launched today, CTA will test an operations component of real-time bus tracking?also on the #20 Madison route?that provides service monitoring and management tools for use by Control
Center and bus service management staff. The operations component is designed to identify potential service problems, make service adjustments and evaluate performance. Field supervisors on the #20 Madison equipped with laptops and Control Center personnel will be able to monitor on-time performance, track bus locations and when buses leave the garage and begin their trips; and monitor intervals between buses.
The software also provides text messaging capabilities for communication to bus operators from the Control Center and field supervisors.
The Bus Tracker and the operations component have been developed through a $1.3 million contract with Clever Devices. The pilot is scheduled to endDecember 2006. The results of the pilot and the availability of funding will determine whether the Bus Tracker system will be expanded to additional routes.# # #