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Technology will make taking bus easier for novice riders

By: Darren MacDonald - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Mar 24, 2014 - 12:21 PM |
Online technology will soon allow Sudbury Transit riders to use Google along with other online apps to easily determine their routes and times before they leave home. File photo.

Online technology will soon allow Sudbury Transit riders to use Google along with other online apps to easily determine their routes and times before they leave home. File photo.

Will be much simpler to determine Sudbury Tranist routes, times

A new website app is making it easier to take the bus in Greater Sudbury, allowing users to find the closest bus stop to get them where they want to go.

Last week, Friends of Sudbury Transit unveiled a new link on their website (friendsofsudburytransit.ca/transit-map) that allows users look up the location of the closest bus stop, as well as the stop's four-digit identity number.


That number can be entered into mybus.greatersudbury.ca, which gives real time route information for all Transit routes. On the group's Facebook page, one of the founders of Friends of Sudbury Transit said the goal is to make it easier for anyone to take the bus.

“If you are at a friend's house and don't know what that four digit number is, you would have to walk there to find out,” Noble said.

The new site allows riders to look up the route number no matter where they are in the city. The next step, which Sudbury Transit hopes to roll out soon, is to allow users to chart their trip using Google Transit Trip Planner.

Roger Sauvé, director of Sudbury Transit, said in a recent interview that they were nearly ready to launch before Christmas when their route planner left and had to be replaced.

“We had it 99-per-cent complete,” Sauvé said. “We were with Google and had it almost ready for release – we were in the approvals process and headed towards launching.”

That forced delays while a new planner was hired. The new staffer is now in place and is being trained, the city said last week. Once that process is complete, Sauvé said they plan to unveil initiatives that will make taking the bus much easier.

Improving ease of use for users is key to boosting ridership, which usually stands at about five million a year.

“If it's not convenient, if it's not easy, people are going to get discouraged,” Sauvé said. “So we have to look at our web page, look at how we deliver this information.”

Google Trip Planner allows users to enter the address where they are now, and the address they want to go. The app tells users what routes they need to take, when the next bus is scheduled to leave and when it's scheduled to arrive at the destination.

“So that gives you your scheduled time,” he said. “At the same time, you can check your bus stop for real-time information to see when the bus is actually going to be there in case there are delays.”

In combination with the route number locator offered on the Friends of Sudbury Transit site, riders will be able to plan much more easily and accurately, either from home or by using their smart phones.

“So we're not far from that,” Sauvé said. “We currently have all the technology to give you that information.”

Transit is also looking at expanding the use of airport-style route arrival and departure time screens, similar to one already in use at Health Sciences North.

“They have a display board that shows all the routes that go by the front of the hospital,” he said. “It runs off of our real-time information and shows, to the minute, when the bus is going to be there. (We want) to set up more of those in key areas of the city — the university, the two colleges, shopping centres, places like that.”

Other changes in the works include a revamped Sudbury Transit website, with route maps and information presented in a more user-friendly way, designed to encourage new users to get on board.

“A lot of the frustration in taking the bus is not knowing when it's going to be there,” Sauvé. “So we're changing map formats to make them more visible and legible.”
Darren MacDonald

Darren MacDonald

Staff Writer

@Darrenmacd

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