The next time you need to take public transit you can pull out your phone and know exactly when your bus will arrive.
On Thursday morning BC Transit launched its NextRide system across the Greater Victoria Region, allowing passengers to see live updates of their buses location, get alerts and better plan routes through a more advanced GPS mapping system.
The $6.7 million upgrade is part of $136 million in funding from the federal and provincial governments to upgrade 790 buses across the province. So far, the system is already in operation in Nanaimo, the Comox Valley, Kamloops, Squamish and Whistler.
“This new technology is one of the ways that we’re working to modernize transit in B.C. and make it easier for people to travel around their communities,” said Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA Mitzi Dean. “People of all ages and abilities rely on transit to get around and this NextRide provides us with real-time data on the location of the bus.”
These live updates promise more breathing room for planning, as well as ensures more security options for passengers, she said.
“Imagine as well for women who are travelling on their own how important this is for their safety. If there’s a going to be a delay in their bus and they’re standing in a bus shelter the they can make different decisions.”
NextRide is a web-based program accessed by going to bctransit.com and clicking on the blue “NextRide” button. From there, passengers can select specific bus routes and bus stops to track upcoming buses. Passengers can also use a route-planning option to decide the best way to get to a desired location.
— Nicole Crescenzi (@NicoleCrescenzi) July 25, 2019
Along with the GPS tracking, upgrades to the bus fleet offer more accessibility options, including audio cues both on the exterior and interior of the bus, as well as visual cues announcing which stop is coming up.
“The added accessibility features of visual scrolls and audible stop announcements will be a great benefit to our riders who are hearing or sight impaired,” said Susan Brice, chair of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission.
NextRide also allows for alerts on accidents, Amber Alerts and police incidents to be instantly shared with transit passengers.
The website requires wifi or data to operate rather than an offline app, a decision that Neil Corbett, director of smart technology said allows for easier accessibility to updates and better cross-reference with apps like Google Maps. He added that currently, more than 80 per cent of people accessing the BC Transit website do so using a smartphone or tablet.
“We’re still looking at wifi on the bus, that’s something TransLink is doing, it’s something we’re investigating,” Corbett said. “But at this point in time it’s just the mobile app that you can check before you leave the house or if you have a data plan.”
NextRide technology is now tracking all 294 operating buses in the Greater Victoria fleet.
Coming up next, BC Transit is working on upgrading the fare operating systems in the Capital Region to allow for cashless fare, which could be installed by 2020.
“For customers who use transit on a daily basis for their commute, I really sincerely hope this puts the control back in your hands, ” said Christy Ridout, vice president of business development at BC Transit.
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