Friday, June 8, 2012

Did you know?

Chicago schools in neighborhoods with high crime rates have installed Bus Tracker to keep students safer by avoiding standing at the bus stop for long periods of time.

Regular riders of transit love the convenience of tools like Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) Bus and Train Tracker. Using GPS technology and historical route data, these services provide real-time bus and train arrival information for a specific stop or station. Trackers count down the minutes until the next arrival, conveniently delivering that information to riders via text messages, mobile web sites, and at a growing number of train platforms, bus stops, and even some local businesses. They make it easier for riders to plan trips and minimize wait times and missed connections, eliminating the biggest hassle in riding transit: wondering when the next bus or train will arrive. CTA isn’t the only system using this type of technology. Washington, D.C., BerlinHamburgLondon, and Portland, Ore., are just some of the cities across the globe using trackers to increase riders’ satisfaction.    

It’s been theorized that transit trackers keep current riders riding; but do they entice new riders? It’s a worthy question, especially considering the upsurge in transit ridership nationwide and particularly in Chicago, the city with one of the most comprehensive transit tracker systems. A new study answers this question: Ridership effects of real-time bus information system: A case study in the City of Chicago, by MacroSys, LLC’s Lei Tang and Vonu Thakuriah, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, finds that when controlling for outside factors that influence transit ridership – for example when gas prices spike and people switch from driving to transit – the CTA Bus Tracker has, in fact, attracted new riders. 

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