Archive for the ‘route performance’ Category
Veolia Shadow/CARTA Bus Tracker real time ETA bus arrival data for any stop on the CARTA system is now online. Still better on a desktop than a smartphone, this website will tell you when the next bus and Stop is serves on the CARTA system. Unlike the older, and still very useful. Google Transit trip planner, bus tracker provides extremely limited, real time estimates on arrival times at a stop based on GPS location data transmitted from the buses, through the cellular network to Veolia, CARTA’s operating company and then ported to the web. If a bus is late or traffic ahead isn’t moving, this ETA data will reflect that. You can sit in a coffee shop or out of the cold, rain or heat a short walk from your stop and watch the bus approach, running out at the last moment to catch your ride.
People who don’t ride buses, don’t get this. We do. It’s revolutionary for a lot of reasons.
Without the Wait and Wonder
If you want to take the wait and wonder out of transit, now you can. If you like chilling at the Mary Street Transit Center, Superstop or those concrete benches on Houston Northcut near Mt. Pleasant town hall, that is your choice. We’ll meet you there sixty seconds before the bus arrives.
First, you use Google Maps to plan your trip. The age of fighting maps with different scales and uncoordinated landmarks, doing the math and guesswork on the schedules, going to your stop and wondering when your bus will arrive and sometimes getting lost are now over for anyone with internet access or a smart phone. If you do don’t paperless, make sure you have the new Schedules for the 40 Mount Pleasant Bus and 41 Coleman Blvd. Bus issued on Feb. 2013.
Second, Get somewhere near your stop and fire up Bus Tracker on your tablet or smartphone and wait somewhere comfortable for the bus to get in range. You can click the green refresh link every few minutes to get an updated time until your bus arrives. The system is still a bit bumpy. Sometimes you have to scroll down a list of every bus stop in the CARTA system, but it often switches to a list of just the stops on your route. You need to select the route for the direction your traveling in, East West or North South. Once you have the route and stop in, in a few seconds you get a list of the next three times a bus is expected at your stop.
If you don’t have a smart phone and you ride the bus, go buy a used one for fifty bucks now. A two year old model will work fine. Get an Android phone if you can, an Iphone if you think you have to. Android’s Google Maps driven transit navigation is clearly superior to Apple’s options. (I own both an Android phone and an Apple Ipad.) Apple omitted transit services from it’s new OS last year and got fierce resistance from transit riders around the world before putting it back in. Google is clearly committed to serving the transit rider. Transit riders are going to the future on the bus with Google. Iphone owners are going to Starbucks to sip Mochas and fret over their credit card balances.
Veolia Shadow means more than knowing when your bus is going to arrive at a stop. Veolia now knows where every bus on the CARTA system is in real time, it’s on time status, speed and direction. All of this can be sorted by route, driver and location. Anything which is late gets flagged automatically. It’s a laser guided system to making on time the standard. If some of the more relaxed drivers look a bit stressed now, Veolia Shadow is why.
On Time and Under Budget
Systems which do what Veolia Shadow does have existed for years, but lack of funding prevented them from being implemented here. The unsung achievement in Charleston is that Veolia, as the result of a contract negotiated with CARTA, managed to leverage cheap GPS equipment, the cellular network and its own proprietary operations software to achieve something which used to cost millions of dollars. The Amalgamated Transit Union (Bus Drivers Union) adjusted it’s work rules to support movement towards better on time performance as well. Everyone is committed to getting on time and staying there, despite the traffic and letting everyone know if it’s happening or not. Implementing the industry standard, off the shelf solution, just for the Express bus system alone, would have cost over half a million dollars.
The Veolia Shadow/CARTA Bus Tracker system is new. It only works when the buses are running. No data reports at 2 am, so it won’t tell you that your bus will be arriving in six hours when the vehicle is shut down and parked at the CARTA storage yard on Leeds Ave. It starts working when the bus cranks up. It sometimes struggles with localized cell network bandwith issues, common downtown near the College. Use WI-FI when you can. In the future we’re expecting arrival time displays at major stops, scannable QR code signage to bring your smart phone directly to information for a stop location and a dedicated app to make it work faster and better when we’re on the move.
Now all we have to do is get those SUVs driven by amateurs out of the way and we can move this community.
June’s ridership report presented at the CARTA board meeting included an amazing figure which validates the work being done by volunteers across the East Cooper area to promote public transit. 1929 more riders a month boarded the #40 bus in May 2011 than a year earlier, an increase of 16.17%. This was a significant upturn in the route’s long history of ridership increases and was unique to routes of its type in the CARTA system. Similar suburban corridor routes such as the Folly Road Bus and Savannah Highway Bus did not post similar increases.
East Cooper CARTA Riders will hold its first formal Route Performance Review and Planning Meeting on Monday, May 16 at 6 pm. The meeting will be held at Page’s Thieves Market at 1460 Ben Sawyer Boulevard, in Mount Pleasant, SC. The meeting will start as soon as participants arriving on the inbound #401 bus can arrive from the Ben Sawyer / Rifle Range stop located 2 blocks West and end in time to catch the outbound 401 a little over an hour later. The meeting is open to the interested and supportive public. Full details can be found at www.eastccrider.com.
- Reports from the Route Committees for the #401 East Cooper Connector Route,
- Route Committee Report for #40 Trans Mt. Pleasant
- Organization of Committee for #402 Island Flex (Bus to the Beach).
- Prioritize goals for stop and route improvement over the summer to present to the CARTA board later that week.
- The Daniel Island committee will present their report on efforts to connect Daniel Island to transit hubs in Mount Pleasant and N. Charleston.
- Review final plans for and volunteer recruitment efforts for the ECCO Transit effort set for May 21 in Snowden and Six Mile.
- Recognition of Student Volunteers
- A comment period will be recorded on Video to post on YouTube so those who can’t attend the CARTA board meeting have the opportunity to be heard.