HART is testing a smartphone application that would enable riders to know in real time when buses will arrive.
The system would allow users to enter a numeric code for their bus stop and receive a information about how long it will take until the bus reaches them.
The “OneBusAway” pilot project is part of the Hillsborough Area Rapid Transit Authority’s ongoing effort to provide bus information on mobile devices, HART officials said.
A HART survey found that more than half of 400 respondents indicated real-time information about bus locations and arrival times could increase the number of trips people might take.
Other research has found that transit riders with access to such information perceive their wait time to be about 30 percent shorter than riders who do not have access to that information, a report by the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research indicated.
Bus officials are able to provide the information because of GPS technology that shows where buses are at any given time and how fast they are moving.
“We have known where all our buses are for the past 10 to 12 years,” said Kathryn Eagan, HART’s chief operating officer. “The question is how to package that information for consumers. It is important to push information onto phones.”
The project will be tested by selected users for two months. After results of a follow-up survey are analyzed, HART officials will consider whether to include the project in the agency’s annual budget.
Costs depend on how easily the transit company could share data with the public and what costs there would be to provide maintenance and support.
OneBusAway was developed by students at the University of Washington to help convince customers to trade the comfort and convenience of their vehicles for the economic and environmental advantages of public transit.
It’s provided free for three Puget Sound transit agencies in a variety of formats: including web, telephone, SMS text, Android and iPhone.