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

Cubic to provide expanded NextBus system for U. of Maryland

Under the contract extension, Cubic will greatly enhance UMD’s smart bus offering by providing university transit staff with features such as automatic passenger counting, automatic voice annunciation, and “turn-by-turn” directions.

University fleet donates 2 buses to Ozark Regional Transit

The transit agency has been using borrowed buses after fleet was destroyed in fire.

CCW to refurbish, rebuild 3 Liberty U. buses

The project will enrich the student experience by carrying passengers across campus, utilizing the transit service intracampus circulator.

UMass Lowell offering free regional transportation to students, staff

With the new program, UMass Lowell is increasing transportation options — which include a network of campus shuttles and a free bicycle-sharing program

Ohio State U., Auburn land LoNo-CAP grant funding

Both universities will conduct testing, evaluation, and analysis of low or no emission components intended for use in LoNo transit buses used to provide public transportation.

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 number 1 resource for vocational 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