Metro begins testing real-time bus arrival system

These three screen grabs from an iPhone show how to access real-time bus arrival info on a cell phone.

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.

50 thoughts on “Metro begins testing real-time bus arrival system

  1. Congrats on making this happen. I realize you can save it as a bookmarked button on your smart phone’s screen, but if you’re not going to make an app, how about an actual mobile version of the site allowing it to load quicker?>

  2. This is great! Just wondering if there are plans for other bus lines in the Metro system (I’m particularly interested in Montebello Bus Lines) to adopt NextBus?

    Is MTA looking at inviting other systems to participate? This would make it a more complete solution if one leg of your trip uses another transit system.

  3. Pingback: LA Metro tests real-time arrival info

  4. Do you need a stop id number to use the system, or will it work with a stop name (5th/Spring, for example). Chattanooga, TN has a system like that that uses stop names; the only drawback is sometimes a bus falls off the system.

    • Hi Tom;

      On the Nextrip page on the Metro website, you can enter a stop number OR find your stop via pull-down menus. The stop number is a quicker way to get the info. On the mobile version of Nextrip, you can either allow your phone to automatically locate the nearest stops and bus lines or you can manually select a stop through a series of menus. If you need your stop number, you can find it here.

      Hope that helps,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  5. So I found out today that 1-800-commute will be discontinued and when calling it, it is saying so. I used 511 and asked for the next 150 going home and was able to provide a bus stop of where i was and it said 1 minute and sure enough it was on its way. But Steve didn’t answer whether or not there is an accessible way for the disabled like myself to get this information. Tried to do text messaging, but I’ll look up the text messaging again, think I got the wrong code. Thought it was 41411 or something like that, but that number seems to go somewhere else and the queries were returned as invalid. So, telephone it looks like 511 will be the way to go. Saddened by this. Steve, editor, can you get in touch with me?

  6. Andrea – Google information is static schedule information =- The Nextrip information will be predictions based upon real-time information using GPS on the buses. With Nextrip, you really won’t need the schedule because you’ll actually know/see when the bus is coming.

  7. @Jared Rimer
    41411 is a national Text number; the agency name Bus Stop # is needed in the message. Please visit this page for step-by-step instructions to use Nextrip via Text/SMS. http://www.metro.net/service/nextrip/textsms/

    Yes, there is an ADA version. You can use the link provided by Darwin O’Connor, we also link to it from our information pages at http://www.metro.net/nextrip

    I’ve also added the ADA link to our mobile website for easy access. http://m.metro.net
    Please give the service a try, your feedback is much appreciated.

    Lan-Chi Lam
    Metro Communications: Web and Mobile

  8. @Forbin
    If you’re a mobile user, please use our mobile website – http://m.metro.net – the Nextrip service is linked here and it will direct you to mobile versions of the service (GPS-enabled or manual selection).

    We’ll be integrating the arrival data in the next version of our Go Metro mobile application, due later this year for both iPhones and Android devices. The current web application is accessible from any mobile browser with internet connection.

    Thanks for your comment.

    Lan-Chi Lam
    Metro Communications: Web and Mobile

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