Riders awaiting the bus at the Julie A. Cunningham Painesville Transfer Center located at 70 North Saint Clair St. no longer have to guess when their ride is showing up, thanks to the transit agency’s installation of its first outdoor digital LED real-time arrival sign.
Synchronized with an on-board GPS system, the illuminated sign accurately displays the next three routes to arrive, the routes’ final destination, and how many minutes until the arrival of the next bus.
“People like information instantaneously and our goal is to always improve the customer experience,” said Julia Schick, Laketran’s director of communications and marketing. “The signs are a great tool for our riders, especially when they are waiting in cold or rainy temperatures. If they know they have 20 minutes before the next bus, they may prefer to go back inside or run another errand while waiting, which is also a benefit for local merchants.
“There is also a general fear of the unknown for those who have never tried public transportation,” she said. “We’re hoping these signs attract new riders who may be a little nervous giving Laketran a try for the first time,” she said.
Laketran will add more signs at its other major transfer locations, including Great Lakes Mall, Lakeland Community College and Shoregate Shopping Center. The agency is also working with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority to have signage at the Shoregate bus stop that will display real-time arrivals for both Laketran and GCRTA routes.
Laketran designated sign locations based on its ridership data. These four locations are all transfer points for multiple local routes and have a large amount of pedestrian traffic daily. The Julie A. Cunningham Painesville Transfer Center serves 130,000 riders annually who use Laketran’s Routes 1, 4, and 5, according to the company.
Each $15,000 sign is 80 percent funded by a federal capital improvement grant with a local (tax revenue) match.
Board President Brian Falkowski said the agency is very excited to launch the improvements in conjunction with the goal of making planning transit trips easier.
“Laketran has always excelled in customer service and to continue that trend we’ve invested in technology improvements so customers can access route information when they need it,” he said. “By the end of the year, riders will be able to get real-time bus information at bus stops, online, through text messages and, always, by calling our customer service center.”
Painesville resident Tom Pluth said that the “high-tech” feature makes things easier.
“I ride frequently and it’s nice to know details of when the bus will reach the stop. It really does help the residents of Lake County.”
NaTasha Strong-Evans, also of Painesville, said she’s a daily rider and likes the specificity of information the signs provide, especially while making multiple transfers.
“The new sign is awesome, I love it,” she said. “It also lets riders know when the buses are riding a bit later. I use Laketran to go to work and school, so it’s nice to get the estimates. It’s great for everybody.”