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IndyGo getting closer to providing real-time bus info

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In the age of GPS systems and smart phones, it seems natural that city bus users could track the arrival of their next ride in real time.  

That technology hasn’t hit Indianapolis yet, but IndyGo CEO Mike Terry said it’s on its way. ETA: this fall.

Terry said this week that IndyGo will have digital signs at downtown stops that show when the next bus is arriving, and passengers throughout the city will be able to check their phones or home computers for next-bus information.

Real-time information is becoming standard in public transit, IndyGo spokesman Bryan Luellen said. “It’s a great way to attract new riders and maintain riders.”

Portland’s TriMet and Pittsburgh’s Tri Delta Transit are among the urban transit systems that already offer real-time information.

IndyGo laid the technological groundwork in 2006 with the installation of a GPS system that IndyGo uses internally to track buses. Riders can call the IndyGo customer service center to find out whether a bus is on time, but so far there aren’t any other ways to get the information.

That will change with IndyGo’s GPS software upgrade, funded with two federal grants worth a combined $866,000, Luellen said.

The software upgrade by Trapeze Group, a global firm that specializes in transportation management, will enable several new functions aimed at customers, Luellen said.

IndyGo users will be able to send a text message to the system with the unique five-digit ID number found on each bus-stop sign and receive a reply text with the next-bus arrival time, Luellen said. The real-time information will also be available through an automated voice system and Google Maps, which IndyGo already uses for trip planning, he said.

In addition, IndyGo will make the vehicle-location data available to anyone who wants to create their own smart-phone application, Luellen said.

In a second phase of upgrades next year, IndyGo plans to set up mobile payment options and upgrade its website, Luellen said.

Indianapolis International Airport last year rolled out real-time information for its parking lot shuttles, part of an effort to ramp up parking revenue in the face of competition from off-site parking firm TheFastPark.

Each economy-lot shelter has a sign that displays the number of minutes to wait for the next two shuttles, and the airport recently installed a 55-inch screen in the Ground Transportation Center with a map of the bus route and the location of each bus in the network.

“Although waits are very short at the airport, the information the system provides to passengers provides some peace of mind, especially for those arriving in the economy lot who are focused on a scheduled departure time for a flight out,” airport spokesman Carlo Bertolini said.

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  • Picky, Nicky
    Nick, you assume too much. I'm tired of freeloaders like you who want to spend billions of my dollars so you can Tweet your friends in Boston and pretend you're urbane. Indy is a pasture, pal. If you want to be big city, MOVE TO ONE!
  • Pay with plastic
    This is great but I'd be more excited if we could get a payment system like London's Oyster card.
  • To Fred
    DoubleMap could probably help create a smartphone app for IndyGo to track and pay and do all this. But remember, the infrastructure, system, and GPS network was laid in 2006. Its probably more cost effective at this point to upgrade what they have to take advantage of it's features instead of implementing a whole new hardware/software system. Depends on the technology though and if they have an ongoing contract with the company that installed it. Also - why hasn't DoubleMap contacted the transit system in the region in which they operate without GPS tracking and try to partner or sell something to them? IndyGo isn't in the business of going out and doing business development, but doublemap should be. They may or may have. We don't know.
  • FINALLY
    Can I say it again please...FINALLY! I'll be honest, I drive mostly, live right in the middle of town and have started taking it more. As a professional who has meetings to get to in the morning and are running them - I have to know if the bus is on time. I've made friends with someone who is always on the bus and gets on early on the inbound. I text her now to see if its on schedule. FINALLY. The text the number back is good and simple. googleMaps is great since I'm using it to plan my routes.
  • Pay to Play? Brilliant Conspiracy
    Pay to play? You really dont understand how IndyGo is organized. It is an independent municipal corporation with a board that has 3 mayoral appointees and 4 council appointees. based upon your logic then the council is the one that is responsible not Ballard.
  • Trapeze Group
    Fred, to answer your question, I would assume it is because Trapeze Group has donated money to Greg Ballard. Its all about pay to play under his administration.
    • DOUBLEMAP is local and can do this now
      The city just awarded a local firm, DoubleMap, as Indianapolis's "Top Tech Startup Company" -- They provide this exact technology for cities around the country, and I believe they do it within months, not years. HOW are we giving our tax dollars to a global firm who's promised this for YEARS rather than our TOP STARTUP in the city? This is nuts.
    • Sarcasm
      Since I assume none of you ride that bus and NONE of you supported spending more tax dollars for our mass transit, I find your snark to be pretty pathetic. You get what you pay for, and if you're not willing to pay for world class mass transit, then shut up. --- Thank you, IndyGo for the upgrades. It will make travel too and from work easier.
      • Great
        This is great news and I welcome its arrival. While this has been a long time coming, I see no reason to dwell on that. As improvements like this happen, we can show how much they matter by pushing for more and riding more often.
      • progress
        Welcome to 10 years ago IndyGo!! Like the saying goes, "Welcome to Indiana, remember to set you watches back 50 years."
      • Great news!
        I've long wondered why we couldn't text to see when the next bus was on its way like in Chicago or other big cities. That, along with the signage announcing the next arrival times, will be great assets to the system. Better late than never.
      • Classicism
        Neglected neighborhoods and downtown. Finally once vital areas are being recognized and poured into with investment. I hope gentrification process does not turn into the shoving of the lower class as it almost always does.
      • Welcome to 1995
        Welcome to 1995 Indianapolis.

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