Transit riders in the Cowichan Valley will be able to see where the bus is along a route and predicted arrival times at any selected stop on their computers, cell phones and other devices later this month.
And the rest of the province should follow in short order.
With the system already operating in some of B.C.’s largest urban markets, the Cowichan transit system has been chosen to be the first in the province to start NextRide’s next phase. The program by BC Transit features Automatic Vehicle Location technology, which reports bus information, such as location, speed, and stops by getting data from global positioning system satellites, installed on its transit buses.
“It’s great to see the successful NextRide program being rolled out across the province,” said Rob Fleming, minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“State-of-the-art technology like this will enhance the user experience, encourage more people to leave their cars at home and help rebuild transit ridership as we emerge from COVID-19.”
BC Transit recently signed a contract with Consat for this project, with a goal is to enhance customer experience and increase ridership. The AVL technology will be installed on approximately 315 buses operating on all conventional, fixed routes in B.C.
Also part of this phase of the NextRide program, onboard, automated stop announcements will call out stops to customers riding the buses, which is also intended to increase comfort and convenience, while improving the overall accessibility for many using transit.
Through BC Transit, the AVL technology will provide bus location data to mobility providers like Google Maps and BC Transit’s partner Transit App, so its customers can track and monitor bus routes using their application of choice.
The NextRide project is funded through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
This project is being cost shared with the federal government contributing 50 per cent, the province contributing 40 per cent and local government partners contributing the remaining 10 per cent.
The projected cost for NextRide being installed in these additional transit systems is nearly $6 million.
“Expanding the NextRide program will improve the customer experience, increase safety for riders and drivers, improve accessibility for users and provide important data for better route planning that will benefit customers across the province,” said Tim Croyle, vice president of operations and CEO of BC Transit.
“We’re excited to introduce NextRide into new transit systems with our new partner Consat to make it more convenient to use transit, no matter where you live.”
The bus tracking technology is scheduled to be installed in Port Alberni and Campbell River in February, in the Fraser Valley Transit Systems, Vernon Regional, Shuswap Regional, South Okanagan-Similkameen, Dawson Creek, Fort St. John and Power River Regional Transit System in the spring, and Sunshine Coast, Prince George, Kitimat, Skeena Regional and Terrace Regional, Prince Rupert/Port Edward, Cranbrook, Kimberley, Elk Valley, Columbia Valley, Creston Valley and West Kootenay in the summer.