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Real-Time System Making Public Transportation Easier For Riders

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Nothing is quite as aggravating as waiting and waiting for a bus to come or just missing a bus that was running early.

But county officials hope to change that with something called the Real Time Bus Arrival System.

"Look on their smartphone or their iPad and know that the bus is going to be here at a certain time," says Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald says 17 new bus routes have been added to nine pilot routes whereby bus riders can get real-time arrival times through an app.

"Most Port Authority buses are equipped with on-board GPS devices," said Fitzgerald. "The location of the bus is transmitted by a cellular modem and antenna located on the roof of the vehicle, and that data is transmitted over a wireless network to the real-time server, then translated into arrival predications that are displayed on the website."

About a quarter of the bus routes are now online, and officials hope all will be on by the end of the year.

The light rail 'T' system will be online sometime in 2015.

Three apps can access the arrival times: Tiramisu, TransitTimes, and TransitApp.

More apps are expected to be available in the future.

Fitzgerald said two other upgrades are coming next year to make public transit even more customer-friendly.

"People will be able to text their route, their stop, and it will be able to read back when their vehicle, their bus, is coming," Fitzgerald says.

And for those technologically challenged, the county hopes to install signs at certain bus stops with the arrival time of the next vehicle clearly posted.

The goal is to increase ridership.

"The more people realize how reliable it is and how well it's running, the more they're going to take it," Fitzgerald adds.

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