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Bus arrival information through texts proving popular
Since its inception May 9 of this year, VIA Metropolitan Transit’s texting feature that allows riders to get real-time bus arrival information through their mobile devices has seen its usage grow steadily.
By texting any VIA bus stop number to 52020, riders with mobile phones can find out when the next bus will be arriving. In the first few days the feature was active an average of 1,168 requests were made for bus arrival times. By the end of May the usage of this feature had grown to over 4,200 requests a day, and as of June 26 this number stands at over 8,100 daily requests with 2,514 unique users.
Developed initially for VIA Primo – VIA’s bus rapid transit service slated to begin operations in December 2012 – the text messaging feature was made available sooner than expected. VIA officials decided to roll out this feature early for the entire bus system as an added amenity for all bus riders.
Every VIA bus is equipped with GPS technology that allows the agency to track the bus in real time and to determine schedule adherence. When a text message is sent requesting the next arrival time for a particular stop, the system determines if the bus is on time and then predicts when it will arrive at the selected stop. This information can also be obtained by sending an e-mail to email@example.com with the bus stop number in the subject line.
VIA is also working to develop applications for Android and iPhone users. These apps should be ready for use by the end of 2012.