New Smart App Gives Bus Stops, Schedules
Tuesday, October 11, 2011 4:34 PM
Imagine this: You are walking around the Galleria and want to go to Discovery Green for a concert. But you're not sure what bus to take.
In a few months, you'll be able use your smart phone to find METRO bus stops, schedules, and eventually real-time, next-bus arrivals.
The free app is expected to be available in November or December. It will work on iPhones/iPads; Androids and later, Windows phones.
"There are a lot of other transit properties that have similar apps like this. We want to try to increase the utility of our system, just like everyone else," said Randy Frazier, vice president of IT and chief information officer.
The app will be called Houston T.R.I.P. "TRIP" stands for- transit route information and planner. The name was suggested by Marie Turner, METRO Customer Care business analyst.
We expect to update the app with next-bus arrivals once we complete our Safe Bus program in late 2012. Safe Bus is a new way for buses to communicate wirelessly so we know the buses' locations. Right now, we're using a 17-year-old system from Harris County to communicate with the buses. With Safe Bus, we'll be upgrading to advanced cellular communications similar to 4G.
There are transit apps developed by the public, such as Ride Houston , an iPhone app that tells you the nearest METRO bus and rail stops to your current location.
We contracted with a third party three or four months ago to develop this in-phone trip planner designed for your fingers. By contracting for the design, METRO will end up owning the app, which will be provided free to the public.
When it comes online, this will be the first app that will have METRO's next-bus information.
"I hope it can help people navigate easier when they're using our system," said Frazier.