Monday, July 12, 2010

Speeding up Routes with Technology

St. Paul buses to add tech to speed up late routes
by Dan Olson, Minnesota Public Radio
July 8, 2010

St. Paul, Minn. — Some St. Paul bus routes will have new technology next year to help buses stay on schedule.

Bus drivers running late on their route will be able to make a red light change faster or hold a green light longer. Metro Transit spokesman Bob Gibbons says the signal technology is successful on a route in Minneapolis.

"We have found that our experiment of this technology on Central avenue in Minneapolis north of downtown has been quite favorable in terms of improving the reliability of the bus service, about a 15 percent time savings in this market based on the use of transit signal priority."

Gibbons says installation of the technology begins next year for some buses on Snelling Avenue and on West Seventh Street in St. Paul. The technology is paid for by a $1.2 million federal grant.

There will also be less guesswork for some riders as to when their Metro Transit bus arrives. Beginning next year, Metro Transit will put up more signs that tell riders when the next bus is arriving at the bus stop.

"Variable message signs that count down the arrival time of the bus for the customer who is standing there waiting, gives them assurance that the bus is en route," Gibbons said. "In addition to having the information by sign it's also available today on cell phones and mobile devices and computers."

Gibbons says the electronic signs are similar to the ones on two busways in downtown Minneapolis.

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