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Coming Soon in Edmonton: Track the Bus on Your iPhone

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The fine folks in Edmonton will soon be able to track where their bus is by using their iPhone. City council just approved a $3.4 million pilot project to equip 50 buses in September 2012.

Users with an iPhone will be able to track where their bus is, as such programs have been successful in other cities.

Coun. Don Iveson strongly supports the scheme, saying automatic vehicle location has worked well when he used it in other cities.

“It pays for itself because it makes the system more navigable for riders and attracts more riders.”

If the project is successful, transit officials will suggest expanding it to the rest of Edmonton’s 959 buses within the next five years, Stolte said.

The price of equipping the whole fleet is an estimated $32.7 million.

When savings in transit operations are taken into account, it would cost about $2 million a year to run, although the technology might also reduce the need for extra buses and other material.

That price was too high for Coun. Kerry Diotte, who voted against the proposal.

“I’m very skeptical, because this is a lot of money,” he said. “If we end up spending $32 million on this, I would say the money can be better spent.”

St. Albert in Alberta has a GPS pilot project in place, which will see their buses fitted and ready in time by May. The systems they are using are from a Vancouver-based GPS company WebTech Wireless. Now, if only Vancouver could get its act together and put something like this in place. The city has an archaic way of dealing with transit fares. Called the “Honour System”, people are allowed on buses and Skytrain/Canada Line cars without passing any turnstiles or showing tickets. This proof-of-payment method is soon being replaced by contact-less payment options.

We’ve already covered similar iPhone GPS stories, such as TaxiNow.ca for cabbies and passengers. For this program in Edmonton to work, it would require everyone to have either an iPhone or another smartphone. But it’s not just about tracking the bus on the iPhone. GPS allows for more accurate arrival times, which makes it easier on passengers, resulting in more bus ridership.

[Edmonton Journal via @StephenHoltzman]

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  • Anonymous

    I wish that Toronto’s TTC would get with the times and offer up a card system or even an NFC instead of the century old token system….

  • This is really great. Halifax Metro Transit has deployed GPS tracking system in its fleet since 2008/2009, it is used only for GoTime service to provide real time schedule.

    They should develop an integrated system like the one Edmonton is planning to do.

  • Anonymous

    Just found out today (though the article’s a couple weeks old) that Ottawa’s OC Transpo had made the GPS data publicly accessible and someone had already developed a free app for it.

    They yanked public access, saying it wasn’t accurate enough (!!) and that they’d provide their own solution later (after paying consultants millions to develop one, and then charge for the app, no doubt).

    This was what I’ve been wanting for years–their schedules are so inaccurate on secondary routes that a bus that comes every 15 minutes is sometimes +/- 10 minutes. A realtime GPS would’ve been a amazing, even if it was off by a minute or two.

    Argh I hate OC Transpo…

  • Doug Fir

    It’s a bit off about Vancouver. Most buses have a driver who checks fares as you get on. The only buses that don’t are the express buses. Secondly the Skytrain and these buses have fare checkers come on and check so if you don’t pay regularly, the large fine is going to offset any savings from not paying other times.

  • guylegend

    I have a hard time believing that it costs $68,000 ($3.4 million / 50 buses) to equip one bus with a gps transmitter when all you really need is just an iPhone running the “Find My iPhone” app. The last time I checked, an iPhone 4 can be had for $159 with a $30/month 6 gig data plan which is plenty for transmitting gps locations for a month. Either the government is being scammed or we have some dishonest politicians here…

  • Edmonton is very iPhone friendly. I think they’re the only city with a Bibliocommons app for their library patrons.

  • Flaxx

    My thoughts, exactly!

  • Luca

    I already have an app like this it shows me the map of my city and bus route and it shows me the bus in motion and how near it is to my stop but the app is only for my city.

  • Aloombox

    Like “Take The Car” will ever let that happen!

  • Frank

    One word: Laval
    Two words: STL mobile

  • Frank

    One word: Laval
    Two words: STL mobile

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