University

Web Extra: Virginia Tech teams with transit to launch VT Bus Tracker

Posted on August 30, 2010

[IMAGE]BlacksburgTransitVTBusTrackerFULL-2.jpg[/IMAGE] Last week, a group of Virginia Tech computer science students unveiled the VT Bus Tracker, with app and text versions that deliver bus locations, speeds and the number of passengers on each Blacksburg, Va.-based Blacksburg Transit bus.

 

Users can access the app on a Blackberry, an iPhone or an Android. There is also a text message system for riders who do not have smartphones.

 

The idea for the bus tracking system was developed about two years ago. The Student Government Association (SGA) funded a student team in the computer science department to develop the project. Blacksburg Transit worked with the team, contributing the bus data that it already collects for federal, state and local reporting.

 

The Virginia Tech Computer Science Department is hosting the bus tracking system and taking care of ongoing costs. Blacksburg meets with them weekly to keep up communication on data feed issues. The agency also handles the cost of the hardware, including ITS equipment on the buses, and the data transmission.

 

“I need that equipment anyway to collect data to be able to track my buses and this is a value-added feature that I am not paying for," said Timothy Witten, ITS/special projects manager, Blacksburg Transit. "Someone else is going out and helping us have better transit ridership, helping people understand the system better, through means that don’t come directly out of my budget. The cost for me to provide data to them, in the grand scheme of things it’s not that much.”

 

One unique piece of data that Blacksburg Transit is able to provide to the Virginia Tech team is the current number of passengers on some of the buses. This information is provided by the automatic passenger counters (APCs) that the agency installs on every bus.

 

“We’ve done some work with an application in-house that will tell you when the bus is full, and we can text that out,” Witten said. “We want [riders] to have as much information as possible, and one of the things our ridership wants to know is ‘How full are the buses?’”

 

The anticipated time frame to have all the buses in the fleet equipped with APCs, Witten said, is mid-November. “We’ll work with New Flyer to get more of the ITS equipment placed on the bus before it comes in now that we finally have a much better handle on what we want to see on every bus.”

 

The next step, Witten explained, will be to model a developers’ page after some of the bigger systems, such as the Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority and the Chicago Transit Authority, to provide open access to data.

 

University-based systems are seeing developments with open source data before the more traditional transit systems, Witten noted. To make transit an easy and valued form of transportation to this new group of consumers, Witten said, providing open source data for these tracking systems is crucial. The student riders in Blacksburg are going to be the users of public transit systems across the U.S. in another five years, he added, and they already expect to be able to access this data from their smart phones.

 

“Five years ago people came to me and said, ‘It’d be nice if I could access the schedule on the Internet,’ and now my passengers say, ‘Why can’t I access the schedule on my smart phone?’” Witten recalled.

 

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

St. Paul, Minn. campus offers car-, bike-sharing services

The services may be an even more valuable resource now that the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities  has ended shuttle service between and handful of local campuses.

Electric campus shuttle helps U. of Alaska Fairbanks reduce footprint

The roughly $40,000 investment in the shuttle was made by the UAF Office of Sustainability, which is supported by a $20-per-semester fee on each student at the school.

U. of North Georgia adding parking

Also, a parking app is under development to help students identify which commuter lots on the Dahlonega Campus have open spaces.

U. of N. Dakota, city officials partner to enhance community livability

Discussions include the concept of creating a light rail speedy transit system with buses, which would include updating bus stops with Wi-Fi and developing an app that would track incoming buses.

U. of Delaware to study solar use on hybrid fuel-cell shuttle buses

The program currently includes two 22-foot, 22-seat transit buses equipped with nickel-cadmium batteries to meet the power demand of the buses and hydrogen-fueled proton exchange membrane fuel cells to maintain the state-of-charge of the batteries.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The resource for managers of class 1-7 truck Fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close