April 29, 2014

Houston METRO, Google partner for real-time info

Houston METRO partnered with Google to offer real-time bus information as well as detour alerts.

“We are focused on improving the customer experience,” said METRO Board Chairman Gilbert Garcia. “Not only will our customers know when their bus will arrive, but if there’s a detour in place on their route, that information will pop up and they can factor this in their plans, too.”

If for any reason a bus loses connectivity — as the GPS information is transmitted via cellular communications — trips posted will revert to the bus’ scheduled times.

About 77% of METRO’s bus fleet is currently equipped with the hardware to provide real-time bus information. The agency is working to bring the remainder of the fleet online.

The agency also offers other rider tools such as the METRO T.R.I.P. app, which helps customers on-the-go plan their trip using scheduled and real-time information, among other features.

“METRO is the first major transit agency, that we’re aware of, to develop its own stand-alone transit app,” said METRO President/CEO Tom Lambert. “We are trying to make it easier for our customers to navigate our system by bringing these types of tools to their fingertips.”

METRO first teamed up with Google in 2008 by sharing its schedules, which were loaded into Google Maps, for quick, easy trip planning. Of the two trip planners METRO offers on its website, about 50% use Google Maps.

The agency’s trip planner will continue to be available to customers but will be phased out in the future.

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