UT adopts GPS bus tracking system

September 1, 2011 | News, UToday
By Nicolette Jett

A new GPS bus tracking system allows The University of Toledo community to see in real-time where a bus is located on campus and how soon it will get to their location.

The tracking system can be accessed online and via a cell phone texting program and is active for all bus routes.

The new system, called Magic Bus created by Shepherd Intelligent Systems, allows students to receive a text message regarding estimated arrival times of the next bus to their area. All the student needs to do is text UToledo and the name of the bus stop where they are to 41411. A reply will be texted to their phone with the estimated arrival time of the bus for that particular location. For example, if a student was at Rocket Hall, he would text “UToledo Rocket Hall” and the reply would say, for instance, “GL: 2m” to let him know the gold loop bus is two minutes away.

The UT Transit Services website, www.utoledo.edu/facilities/transit, also displays in real-time where the buses are in their routes.

“It’s a good tool for people to plan their transportation around because they will know when the bus is coming,” said Diana Watts, UT transit program coordinator. “It eliminates the worry that they might have missed the bus and lets them know if they should wait for the next bus or find another way to get to class on time.”

The idea for the GPS tracking system came from Student Government President Matt Rubin, whose personal experience of catching the incorrect bus from the Student Union to Rocket Hall inspired him to think of a new way to track the buses at the University. Rubin worked with Dr. Kaye Patten Wallace, vice president for the student experience, and Steve Wise, manager of University Transit Services, to get the project under way.

“I noticed different universities had developed phone applications for their GPS tracking systems, and I believed it would be a great idea to establish the same system at UT,” Rubin said.

The University of Michigan also uses the same Magic Bus system.

The GPS tracking system will be expanded to include large monitors mounted at bus stop areas where an electronic display board will show routes in real-time. The University is looking into a smart phone application to go with the system.

“My hope is that with the development of the new GPS tracking system, UT students will take full advantage of Transit Services,” Rubin said. “A small investment can help students tremendously by tracking their bus and helping them arrive to their destination without any confusion.”

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