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April 22, 2013

U. of Texas-Dallas bus system adds GPS tracking

University of Texas-Dallas (UT Dallas) Comet Cruiser riders can now use a Web-based GPS system to track the locations of buses on two routes.

The new GPS tracking system will help riders pinpoint the bus arrival times, said Cris Aquino, interim director of parking and transportation.

“The GPS can track the bus from a remote location, so any delays can be tracked on riders’ phones. Now in bad weather, they’ll be able to wait indoors until the bus is approaching,” he said.

The new GPS service is the latest technology upgrade provided. Free Wi-Fi was launched last fall, giving students the ability to do homework or check email while riding the bus.

Comet Cruiser buses now also feature LED scrolling messages and audio announcements. Multiple security cameras onboard provide a live feed to the Parking and Transportation office on campus.

Dr. Calvin Jamison, VP, administration, said the new bus technology will provide a better campus experience for students, faculty and staff.

“This is a natural for a university that is so tech-savvy,” Jamison said. “This cutting-edge management and communication system for our bus fleet is another service we can provide for the UT Dallas community.”

Buses are also equipped with laser counters to tally riders getting on and off at each stop. Previously, bus drivers had to manually click counters as riders entered buses.

“The laser counters will be invaluable for us to determine peak times at each stop so that we can better adjust our schedules,” said Paul Smith, parking and transportation manager.

Along with the technological advances, the five new Comet Cruiser buses are also larger to accommodate increases in bus ridership. Each bus can hold up to 65 riders with standing room capacity, instead of 38 previously. Some 18,000 riders now use the Comet Cruiser routes each week.

UT Dallas operates the campus shuttle bus services in cooperation with Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) to connect the university to the DART light rail system and local residential and shopping areas. All transit services operated by the university are free to all riders and open to the public.

Students, faculty and staff can use the online DART Trip Planner to create personalized trip plans, customized schedules and to find the DART stops nearest their locations.

RELATED ARTICLE: Check out, "Baylor app to track after-hours shuttle."

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