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SamTrans to provide GPS-based real-time bus schedule info

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  • 12/31 SF Examiner
    Published Wednesday, December 31, 2008, by the San Francisco Chronicle SamTrans bus arrival times going high-tech By placing global-positioning devices on its
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 5, 2009
      Published Wednesday, December 31, 2008, by the San Francisco Chronicle

      SamTrans bus arrival times going high-tech

      By placing global-positioning devices on its vehicles, SamTrans
      will provide real-time information on bus arrival times at key
      transit stops and stations.

      By Katie Worth
      kworth@...

      The timetables for several SamTrans bus routes will be receiving a
      high-tech boost.

      The San Mateo County Transit District has hired a contractor to
      install electric signs indicating estimated arrival times on all
      SamTrans bus lines that go to the Daly City BART, Colma BART and
      the Redwood City Sequoia Station.

      Arrival times will also be available on the Bay Area's 511 phone
      system and on 511.org, allowing customers to know precisely where
      their bus is and time their own arrival at the stop to coordinate
      with that of the bus.

      The system works by placing a Global Positioning System on each
      vehicle and then conveying the expected arrival times to signs
      installed at bus stops along the route. The system is more accurate
      than a typical schedule, particularly when there's heavy traffic or
      other factors slowing a bus.

      Similar systems have been installed on some lines of San Francisco's
      Muni system, on BART and a handful of other transit systems in the
      Bay Area. Caltrain has also considered installing arrival-departure
      prediction systems.

      The project will cost the district $1.3 million and is being paid
      for by a grant from the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation
      Commission. SamTrans spokeswoman Tasha Bartholomew said there is
      no exact timeline as to when the system will be online.

      Adrian Brandt, a longtime transit advocate who lives in San Mateo
      County but works in San Francisco, said he has come to rely on Muni's
      NextBus service and is thrilled that a similar service will come to
      San Mateo's bus lines.

      "I really enjoy the predictability," he said. "We were just at
      California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park recently and went
      to catch Muni home, and I noticed the NextBus display. It was great
      -- I knew I had time to go get a Coke at the store on the corner
      before it came."

      The system can also help riders avoid having to stand at bus stops in
      inclement weather, or allow them to sit in a coffee shop or do a few
      last minute things at home or work before leaving for the bus stop,
      he said.

      "It's really liberating," he said.

      The investment in the new system was mentioned in the district's five-
      year strategic plan approved Dec. 10. Providing "real-time information
      at key transit stops and stations" was listed as one way the agency
      can improve customer satisfaction.

      Though the strategic plan does not allow for or consider funding for
      proposals, it lists dozens of measures the agency should take to
      balance its books, improve customer service, expand service on major
      transit corridors and connect to other modes of transportation.
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