Mobile app will allow users to track location of buses
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
For all of those who have ever wondered if they have some extra time before the bus arrives, or if they have to rush to catch a bus, there is hope. University Transportation Services (UTS) is currently working on creating a new mobile application that would allow bus riders to track bus locations in real-time from their phones or computers.
In 2010, UTS applied for and was awarded Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) improvement funding, which it is using to pay for the majority of this new project. Michael Amicangioli, the planning, grant and contracts manager for UTS, works as the federal liaison and project manager for this grant, making sure that UTS stays in compliance with the Federal Transit Administration’s rules and regulations and that the project is executed on time and within its allotted budget.
“Buses’ locations will be broadcasted up to the server approximately every five to 10 seconds; you’ll be able to pull up the routes on your computer or phone and look at the routes, the buses on the route, their predicted arrival time, and when they will reach their next stop,” Amicangioli said.
According to Amicangioli, due to the decrease of idling time on buses, decrease in single-occupancy vehicle trips, increased transit ridership, and an increase of operational efficiencies, the system is projected to reduce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) emissions by 1.37 kg per day, and reduce nitrous oxide emissions by 2.09 kg per day.
“The main focus of this project is to disseminate information to the students, faculty, staff and public riding the buses to help make public transit work for them,” he said. “Increased use of the public transit system along with increased operational efficiencies internal to UTS will help to reduce congestion and improve air quality on campus and throughout the region.”
The equipment required for this system will be bought by outside vendors, though part of the mobile app will be made in-house by UNH Academic Technology. UTS plans to have the first order of equipment arrive in December, with the project expected to be fully operational during the spring semester.
“I’m very excited for it. I’ve met with vendors and other universities that have systems like this, and the feedback is 100 percent positive,” Amicangioli said.
Robert Collinge II is a sophomore theatre major and uses the bus system to commute to UNH.
“Usually, I just get around the bus stop when I know the bus is going to be there, but this potentially could be a big help,” Collinge said.
Collinge said that while he thought the bus system was already pretty efficient, there is no harm in trying to improve it.
“It’s an interesting idea. Helpful for those who have the technology, but for those who don’t, it won’t be that useful,” Collinge said.
Kate Dusinberre is a graduate student in math education, and has been driving buses for UTS for the last eight years. She recently started driving for the COAST bus line as well.
“It’s the way we are headed. I think it will be beneficial for the university, and will give more access to students with technology,” she said.
Dusinberre said that because many college students have smartphones, the app will be more useful at the university than it would be among the general population.
She also expects that the new app will cut down the number of phone calls that UTS receives asking about the locations of the buses.
“There is also the safety implication. It probably wouldn’t happen, but say if a bus got hijacked, they’d be able to track it,” she said.
The COAST bus line also has a similar system installed in its vehicles, with buses’ locations broadcast directly back to the main office. Dusinberre hasn’t seen any negative effects or downsides to this system at COAST, and doesn’t expect there to be any problems with having this system at UNH.
“In general, it’s a good idea. I would use the app myself,” she said.