The program serves to inform riders when the next bus will depart from the stop with real-time information.
According to a press release, riders now have the ability to send a text message to 41411 using text code “LTBUS + STOP ID + ROUTE #”.
For instance, if an employee or shopper at the Great Lakes Mall wishes to take Route 1, that individual can text LTBUS 14 1, to 41411 to receive a text message displaying the next time the bus will depart both eastbound and westbound from the Great Lakes Mall Transfer Center. The information received is based on the current GPS location of the bus, not the paper bus schedule, the release stated.
The new bus stop signs are designed to educate riders on how to use the new text code with unique bus stop ID numbers. Bus stop ID numbers are located on each individual bus stop and on a new interactive map on the transit agency’s website, featuring each bus stop throughout the system.
“We are in a world where people want information instantaneously,” said Laketran General Manager Ray Jurkowski. “In a suburban environment where frequency of buses is once an hour, real-time information is very beneficial for customers and internal operations.”
Last June Laketran updated its website to add new Rider Tool features, allowing customers to track the location of buses in real-time on a map from smartphone. Aware that not all customers possess smartphones, Laketran added the text- messaging program.
“We serve a very mobile population and everyone wants access to this information, but everyone doesn’t always have a smartphone, or has limited data, so the text messaging is a simple way to keep track of when your bus is coming,” Jurkowski said.
Director of Communications and Marketing Julia Schick said the new signs and other online rider tools have changed Laketran’s entire Travel Training program.
“Instead of spending time teaching someone how to read a paper bus schedule to one specific destination, we now teach (riders) how to use Google Transit for trip planning and how to track their bus along its route. And now with the texting code, riders can find out when the bus is going to arrive at their stop in real-time.”
“The new bus stop signs improve rider safety and customer communications, too,” she said. “Each bus stop sign is now reflective which makes it easier to see at night for riders, our drivers and motorists. When winter weather or traffic delays routes, we send out rider alerts via text message or email that the buses are delayed. Instead of waiting in blustery weather, riders can take shelter, use the text code and know exactly when the bus will arrive at their bus stop.”
Seeking to capitalize on the program, Laketran is continuing to further improve access for customers with the development of a mobile app to be introduced later this year.
“Technology has been our focus in 2016,” said Laketran Board President Brian Falkowski. “We’re excited to add this to our list of passenger amenities and improve the experience of riding public transportation.”