September 16, 2010

Technology initiative helps agency keep riders informed

York, Pa.-based rabbittransit has launched a major technology initiative, known as smarthop, which offers multiple state-of-the-art features to benefit its riders. One of the project highlights includes the new Infopoint section of its Website, which displays real-time information giving riders the ability to view up-to-the-minute bus locations and departure times. All rabbittransit vehicles are now equipped with GPS technology, which is the source for the detailed real-time data.

An iPhone application is also available and allows riders to view real-time bus locations on Google Maps. The iPhone app provides information for the Route 1, which is the most trafficked rabbittransit line with more than 500,000 riders a year. The rabbitEXPRESS service to Harrisburg and Maryland and the York College Green Machine service are also included within the application. The iPhone app can be downloaded for free by searching "rabbittransit" in the App Store.

Real-time passenger screens have been installed at the rabbittransit Transfer Center. The large-scale screens mounted overhead display the next available departure times for buses in route to the Transfer Center. Additional passenger screens are slated to be installed at York Hospital and York College. Other places within the community are being identified.

There is also a new feature for rabbittransit's paratransit customers who utilize its curb-to-curb service. Riders receive notification calls for their trip times from an Automated Phone System, which utilizes Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology, and can opt to receive reminder calls prior to the vehicle arriving. rabbittransit began piloting the feature earlier this year.

All riders, including those who travel on rabbitEXPRESS commuter service, fixed route service, paratransit service and those who access the Hop-n-Ride Park & Ride lots, may take advantage of the Rider Alert system. Those who register for this free service through the website can receive service updates, which are customized to include their particular routes. The alerts are sent via email and text messaging.

On the technology horizon, rabbittransit is currently in queue for the deployment of Google Transit, a feature in which the search engine navigates riders through web-based trip planning. A smart phone application for the Android platform will be available in October 2010 and the BlackBerry platform continues to be in development.

Special funding was received for the project from a grant specifically dedicated for technology. 

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