Want to know where your bus is? Track it

Technology that will allow people to use their computers and mobile devices to track B.C. Transit buses is due to be in place this spring, but a hint of the advances being made has already started to appear.

Thanks to the NextRide “automatic vehicle location” system, which will eventually make GPS tracking possible, buses are being equipped with an enhanced speaker system and electronic signs.

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“When the bus pulls up to a stop, passengers will hear the bus announce which route it is and the destination,” said B.C. Transit spokesman Jonathon Dyck. “What the system does now is it says the cross street, but it will actually say the stop from now on, so they’ll announce the next stop coming up.”

Buses will also display upcoming stops on a screen.

“Over the next few months it will be on all of the buses, and then once it is we’ll do the final testing for the web-based technology to see where your bus is in real time.”

The bus-tracking feature will show real-time bus locations on an online map and provide predictions of when a bus can be expected at specific stops.

Nanaimo and Comox are among the B.C. communities that already have the full tracking system. Dyck said Greater Victoria is taking a little longer due to the number and variety of buses that are operated here.

Greater Victoria riders can get a preview of what the system is like by going to bctransit.com/nanaimo and tapping on or clicking the NextRide button.

The system will also be able to provide alerts about detours, traffic incidents and other issues, giving B.C. Transit greater ability to adjust deployment of buses.

Details about bus arrival times will also be shown on signs erected at major bus exchanges.

The information will be available as a feed that can be used in third-party apps.

The new technology is part of an $11.8-million provincewide project paid for by the joint federal and provincial Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.

Similar systems, though not necessarily under the NextRide brand, are operating in other Canadian urban centres, including Metro Vancouver, Calgary and Brampton, Ont.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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