Peterborough Transit is looking to make some major changes and upgrades to its customer service and information-technology systems and the way the ridership use its services.
It could mean the days of waiting and wondering when the city bus will arrive at your stop could soon be over, as city council on Monday approved spending $1.9 million on a list of upgrades to the transit system to make it a fully digital and automated system, including the implementation of a new GPS app for riders to know when their bus will be picking them up.
“This brings us into the new age of transit and transportation,” said transportation chair and Monaghan Ward Coun. Don Vassiliadis.
“Having a transit app will make sure that people will have an efficient, convenient transit service and if it is convenient and efficient, it will mean they will take it more often.”
There are 13 different items within the intelligent transportation system report. Further upgrades include computerized scheduling systems, traffic control upgrades at intersections to allow late buses ease of movement and security cameras which will help make the services more efficient and secure for riders and operators.
“We are running a lot of late-night service for the university and the college and so (the drivers), they’re out working on their own till 3 a.m. in the morning some nights, and with some unruly passengers at times, this just gives them another level of security,” said transportation manager Kevin Jones.
In 2017, Peterborough Transit provided 4.1-million rides, a record in terms of serviced rides for the city, says Jones, and with the new technology and upgrades, it will allow transportation staff to better analyze the entire services, while getting better insight in the usage of ridership. Jones believes this will create efficiencies and save the city money in the long run.
“People can get on their smartphones and they can see when the next bus will arrive at their stop,” said Jones. “They can even identify their favourite stop or one they use all the time and get an advanced message saying, ‘Your bus is 10 minutes away.'”
This report includes a list of technological upgrades to the busing system, and during the process, Jones says they consulted other municipalities which encouraged them to bundle their needs into a request for proposal.
“We had a number of projects that we have packaged together in one RFP because all these systems do talk to each other,” said Jones. “And so you get more bang for your buck if they are all working together.”
Strategic Mapping Inc., a company out of Toronto whose clients include the Toronto Transit Commission and New York City Transit, has been recommended by staff to be hired to spearhead the traffic system upgrades and will start once council gives the go-ahead.
With this new technology in place, the city’s transportation department will use some of the enhanced information and data it’s collecting, like the ability to see how many riders use a route daily, or by determining the busiest bus stops in the city, to help them examine the current transit system and see where to make improvements in order to roll out better services.
Jones says the city is looking at building a better transit system across the city and could potentially move away from the current downtown hub system, which has been in place for more than 35 years.
A temporary position within the transportation department will be created to ensure the application of the new system, along with working closely with Strategic Mapping Inc., to make sure the process goes smoothly. Jones said it’s anticipated the smart technology will fully be in place by March 2019.