VALPARAISO | You're waiting at the Village Station parking lot for a loved one to arrive on the ChicaGo Dash, but it appears the bus is late and you want to know when it will arrive. What do you do?
The city's Board of Public Works and Safety on Thursday approved a contract with Double Maps that provides the program for anyone to track the location of all the city's buses — both the V-Line intra-city buses and the Dash — at any time on a computer or a cellphone.
City Planning Director Tyler Kent said the program was created by students at Indiana University for the Bloomington, Ind., bus system and is now being marketed nationwide. The program operates from Droid tablets mounted on each bus connected to a geographic information system.
Kent said the Droids have been used for the past month on a trial basis to see how it works. The contract calls for the Dash and the V-Line each to get five Droids. The Dash cost is $6,000 while the V-Line system is only $3,600 a year for up to five years.
The Droids are mounted next to the driver, and the city plans to add two additional programs to the system. One will count the passengers, and the second will announce the intersections along the routes. The latter will help visually impaired riders know where they are and relieve the drivers of having the do it.
The drivers try to count passengers, but Kent said that can sometimes be difficult when several are getting on and off at a stop. Kent said much of the federal funding for the bus services is based on ridership, and the new system will keep a more accurate count.
The counting program will require a $5,500 annual fee plus $100 a month, while the intersection announcer will cost $400 per vehicle to install and a $100 monthly fee.