Yet Another City Considers GPS Bus Tracking

GPS bus tracking can be extremely useful for municipalities and public transportation authorities who want to provide top notch service to their customers while at the same time equipping their fleet with superior vehicle awareness and maintenance capabilities.  Several major cities have already adopted this type of tracking to help provide useful information to their users and to aid fleet authorities to better understand the condition of each and every bus in the fleet.  Some notable cities that use one type of bus tracking or another are Washington D.C, Chicago, and San Francisco – with both Boston and New York City considering some form of tracking for future use on some of their bus lines.

There are several benefits that users of these systems list.  Probably the first thing that users love about a publicly available tracking system for buses is that they provide users with more time.  When a user wants to catch a bus to head off to work, to school, or just out for a night on the town then they would normally just go to the bus stop around the scheduled arrival time of that specific bus.  If a bus is late (or heaven forbid it is early) then you have to wait for the bus to arrive – this could take 5 minutes or it could take half and hour in the case of the early bus.

But if the bus is being tracked with GPS then you can be certain of the buses location at any given point in time.  Some bus tracking systems, like NextBus, even employ a complex arrival time algorithm that will give you an estimated time of arrival for your bus given current traffic conditions.  Equipped with this knowledge, bus riders can make more informed decisions about then they should head out to catch the bus resulting in more time spent at home with the family or more time spent at work earning money for their family.

Another benefit often cited by users of these systems is that they help them feel safer.  I suppose that this has a lot to do with minimizing the amount of time that they spend waiting for the bus.  This is probably very useful for women who might feel at risk if they need to catch the bus in a less than stellar neighborhood or who don’t like being outside in the dark very long by themselves.  The less time they can stand waiting around for a bus the safer they feel when using the bus to get from place to place.

For those cities that experience a rather rough winter, bus tracking systems also help people stay out of the cold.  Again, this all goes back to being able to make better decisions about when to go out and catch the bus that bus GPS tracking software give to users. If they were not able to know where the bus is then they could not decide when a good time to head out to catch it is. If they don’t know when to go out to catch it they begin to play it safe and head out well in advance of the scheduled time so that they can be sure to catch the bus that is going to take them where they want to go.

This type of bus real time tracking seems like the future to me. I can totally see a country 10-15 years from now where every major metropolitan area has its bus lines tracked with GPS. It is efficient, useful, and provides a great service to the public. Also, if cities could spread this type of real time tracking to more than just buses and somehow link up all their transportation services this could really help consumers in their effort to make use of the most efficient transportation available to them. People wouldn’t want to travel by car when they could use the laser like precision of public transportation.

The only way we are going to get away from the energy inefficient modes of transportation is by providing superior alternatives – and it seems like GPS tracking is one of the key components that can make public transportation superior to driving by car.