Waiting for the bus is nothing new for students at Michigan State. The capital area transportation authority is a primary method for getting from one class to another, usually on time. However, as it is with any form of public transportation, waiting is inevitable.
As early as next fall, the time students spend waiting in places like these could be drastically reduced , when up to the minute bus tracking information could be just a text message away.
This year, CATA has been focusing on launching a product called automation vehicle location system, according to Assistant Executive Director Deb Alexander.
“The new system allows CATA to put GPS tracking devices on all the buses so each bus’s exact location can be tracked at any moment,” she said.
This information then feeds back to a central location in real time using a cellular service. While the system is still in development, their goal is to get the real time information to the public where it can be accessed by anyone.
“We’re now working on a project that allows students or any customer to stand at a bus stop and send us a text,” said Alexander. “The text would return to the next three buses that are coming to that bus stop in real time, and how much time they have to wait for that vehicle to come.”
For the thousands of students who use CATA daily, the ability to know when the bus is arriving is a valuable resource.
“It would definitely make it a lot more convenient for us,” said MSU student Bret Abraham. “It would be a lot easier to figure out the exact time to come to the bus stop.”
While CATA already posts the bus times online, the relative ease of accessing up to date information from a cell phone is more appealing.
“You always have your phone on you,” said Abraham. “I don’t always have time to pull out my laptop and check the website. Plus, that isn’t always current.”
Whatever the result of CATA’s initiative, one thing is certain: waiting around unsure of your bus’s exact arrival time could be a thing of the past.