Tuesday, July 14, 2020

CATA partnering with Transit app for real-time bus tracking

September 5, 2017
<p>A CATA bus is pictured on June 8 at the CATA Transportation Center.</p>

A CATA bus is pictured on June 8 at the CATA Transportation Center.


The Capitol Area Transportation Authority has partnered with the Transit app in order to provide riders with a more interactive transportation experience. 

CATA joined forces with the Transit app in order to give riders the ability to track bus locations, compare wait times to services like Uber and link up their travel plan with bike share and walking times. 

The app uses GPS information from the buses to provide real-time updates on location. According to its website, the Transit app is available in more than 125 cities worldwide.

CATA Deputy CEO Brad Funkhouser, who joined the team from a private architectural and engineering consultant firm, said this partnership comes at the urging of the public. 

“Over the last year or so we had a number of public meetings and a number of high-profile town halls, and what we had found was the public asking for a number of improvements, and this was probably at the top of the list with real-time bus tracking,” Funkhouser said. “In a very short period of time, probably in the last six months we worked with developers and got it out the door.” 

IT director and project lead Sean Gleason says the app will get riders all of the information they need in one place, and will shift reliance off of route-specific paper schedules. 

“Every year we have these paper schedules," Gleason said. "Now this year we don’t have to use so much paper on the bus routes through 26 because they don’t need it. They ask ‘Do you have an app?’ and download it.”

Development and partnership for the app really took off at the end of last school year, Gleason said. He believes there’s no reason to be wary about the quick turnaround time. 

“We moved pretty quickly on this,” Gleason said. “We had a soft, initial soft beta period with the public testing it for us and we were testing it internally, but with school starting, it’s such a valuable time to do it right now.” 

Gleason added there will always be opportunities to better the app’s services. 

“This is a big step forward for us and I hope that even though we rushed through the door, we’re still making improvements to it, we’re still trying to make it better," Gleason said."This is new for us.”

Funkhouser explained that partnering with Transit goes along with a slew of renovations that remain in the future for CATA. He says public input has convinced the service that it needs to focus on modernizing many aspects.

“The other big project we are looking at is on-street improvement," Funkhouser said. "The public has asked for better shelters. Shelters that are lit, maybe even have other technology in them. We are looking at reader boards that can track a bus, countdown how many minutes that are left. We’re thinking about possibly doing a pilot on campus. We’re looking at LED lights for safety. We’re really talking about improving the look of these facilities.”

Funkhouser says CATA has a vested interest in helping people and will try to take the steps its customers request in order to do so competently. 

“We have over 330 employees who love doing their service every day," Funkhouser said. "It’s a huge honor, but we also know it’s a huge responsibility to get people where they need to go.”

The Transit app is free and available on Apple and Android phones.


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