GPS technology and automated stop announcements will board 45 Edmonton Transit System buses early next year, as part of a pilot project involving Smart Bus Technology.
The project, approved by city council in February 2011 and originally scheduled to launch this fall, will begin early in 2013 due to contract negotiations taking longer than expected, said Ken Koropeski, director of transportation services with Edmonton Transit.
“But everything is now moving forward quite well,” he said. “We are looking at doing the first phase early next year.”
The pilot will include Route 128, which runs from the University of Alberta to Castledowns through Westmount, as well as Route 111, which runs from downtown to West Edmonton Mall.
“So all buses that operate on those two routes will be blanketed in the first phase,” said Koropeski, noting up to 20 at a time are on the two routes.
Features of the technology include both audio and visual stop announcements on board, real-time scheduling, and digital signs at some bus stops for passengers, as well as automatic vehicle location, computer-aided dispatch and other communication tools that will better connect operators with the control centre.
Koropeski said Routes 128 and 111 were chosen due to where and who they serve.
“They both serve post-secondary institutions,” he said. “And we thought from the point of view of the passenger market, for people who could take advantage of smart phones and that type of technology … that we would get the best feedback.”
Buses for the two routes also operate out of the same garage, he added.
ETS plans to do an evaluation six months into the pilot, and then move forward with putting the equipment on the rest of the more than 950 buses, pending funding approval.