I know that many readers of The Source have been asking about this recently, so here’s some good news: Metro today began testing a real-time bus arrival system called Nextrip.
It’s important to consider that this is a test, with Metro tech staffers monitoring some users to see how the system is working. Nonetheless, the system is out there and online, so I wanted Source readers to know about it.
Metro customers can access the real-time data on the Metro website or on their cell phones, which is especially convenient. It’s also possible to get the information via text message if you don’t want to fuss with the Internet.
For those unfamiliar with real-time bus arrival systems, it’s pretty simple. Let’s say you’re at the bus stop at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and New Hampshire and want to know when the next Line 180 bus is going to arrive. The real-time system will tell you how many minutes until the 180 shows up and how long until other bus lines serving the same stop also arrive.
Pretty neat, eh? It’s a lot better than trying to download a pdf timetable onto a cellphone and trying to find when the bus is scheduled to arrive, which in the real world is not always the same as when the bus actually arrives.
Testing will be ongoing for a while. But it’s very good news that Metro is close to rolling out the system. The effort began last March when Metro invited vendors to submit bids to install a real-time system. Then in September, Metro’s Board of Directors selected NextBus as the vendor and awarded them a $1.65-million contract, with the aim of going live in early 2011.
Enjoy the real-time info and let us know how it works. The screen grab below from the Metro Nextrip website shows the various ways you can let Metro know how the system is working. We’ll also make sure that any comments left on The Source are forwarded to Metro’s tech squad.