Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority officials unveil a new display sign Oct. 16, showing real time bus information at the 34th Street transfer facility in St. Petersburg.
ST. PETERSBURG – Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority officials gathered in front of the 34th Street transfer facility Oct. 16 to reveal what is being touted as the biggest technological advancement in the agency’s history.
PSTA riders can get real time bus information, based on space-age global positioning technology, that can tell them when the next bus will arrive at any given spot. The technology also provides a variety of ways for riders to find out when the next bus is due.
Riders can get information on their Smartphone, via text, at the website, www.RidePsta.net, where information is displayed in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Hebrew. They can sign up to receive emails by subscription at RidePSTA.net. For example, riders can get an email every day at 5 p.m. with the arrival time for stop #1234.
PSTA riders also can call the PSTA InfoLine at 540-1900 to hear an automated voice response in English and Spanish. They also can check bus information on transfer station display signs.
“With this exciting new technology we have a truly cost effective way of giving our riders the option of spending less time at their stops,” said Real Time Bus Information Project Coordinator Walt Lenz. “For example, riders can now wait at their workplace or home and be directly notified by text message or email as to when their next bus will arrive.”
PSTA leaders say they have wanted to implement this kind of technology for years, but didn’t have the means to do so until the agency was awarded funding from the federal government as part of the 2009 stimulus package. The $5.1 million project took nearly three years to bring to fruition, but has received overwhelming praise from the riding public, especially those who have hearing or visual impairments, as the RTBI system includes automated on-board displays and announcements for both stops and cross streets.
“This system also provides some amazing maintenance features and cost cutting benefits,” said PSTA Chief Operating Officer James Bradford. “The technology is tied into the engine electronics and can automatically send email alerts to our mechanics if something isn’t right. That way we can get the bus in for repair before it breaks down on the road.”
Bradford added that not only spares riders the inconvenience of the occasional breakdown, but it saves on maintenance and towing costs as well.
This new system has literally become an international showpiece for bus arrival information. Transit agencies from around the world are visiting PSTA and using its system as a blueprint for similar implementations in their cities and countries.
“We applaud PSTA for its launch of the RTBI system, which places the agency at the forefront of innovation among transit systems,” said Frank Ingrassia, President and CEO of Clever Devices, the company that installed the RTBI system. “Today’s transit riders want instant access to bus arrival times across a variety of devices and platforms, and PSTA has anticipated this demand with this cutting-edge product.”
At a ceremonial unveiling Oct. 16, PSTA CEO Brad Miller noted that the new system will constantly adapt to transit system changes and is easily scalable to encompass all improvements outlined in county’s new Greenlight Pinellas transit improvement plan.