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Bus, Train & tram tracking app

Melbourne / Victoria Transport Discussion

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Re: Bus Tracking app

Postby Craig » Mon Jun 27, 2016 2:41 pm

Bendigo buses can now be tracked in the PTV app.

Image

Terry Mulder had announced Bendigo would be the first network to get the real-time tracking when he opened Epsom Station in October 2014. The online CDC staff newsletter has mentioned that Geelong and Ballarat are also coming this year, and presumably LaTrobe Valley as well. It will be interesting to see which smaller cities and towns it's eventually rolled out to.

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Re: Bus Tracking app

Postby Craig » Thu Oct 20, 2016 10:22 am

At long last.... :D

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There is an associated update to the PTV app that includes platform numbers and cancellation updates as well
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Re: Bus, Train & tram tracking app

Postby Craig » Wed Dec 07, 2016 8:46 pm

Came across this July article from the Australian Financial Review yesterday highlighting some of the benefits of bus tracker, bemusement at PTV's underselling of the feature and going over the selection of a fourth* bus tracking system, as we've previously discussed. The author doesn't seem aware some third-party apps do exist (unlike TfNSW PTV don't have a list on their site, presumably due to their investment in their own app while they stalled on rolling out GTFS data).

Australian Financial Review wrote:Melbourne buses finally show how handy GPS tracking data is for customers
by Peter Moon

Paul Mees, the late and much-lamented public transport academic and activist, never tired of pointing out how relatively minor improvements could add major value to transport services. Melbourne's metropolitan bus network is a case in point.

Patronage has been poor for years, in no small part due to the fact that timetables were wildly inaccurate. If ever there was a candidate for a real-time tracking system feeding reliable arrival data to smartphones, this was it.

The odd things about Melbourne's consumer-facing network-wide GPS system are that, first, it took more than half a decade to implement and, second, Public Transport Victoria didn't shout it from the rooftops when it finally arrived.

But at least the wait is over, for the technology if not always for the bus.

Lengthy rollout

The saga began in early 2010 with the award of a reported five-year contract with Sigtec to supply and maintain a GPS system and a two-year gig for Plexicor to install it.

By 2013, almost all buses were kitted out but only those run by Transdev, with a little under a third of the city's fleet, were operating the system.

That October, the State government suspended the program citing issues including over-complexity in the solution, resulting "exorbitant" operating costs, and the fact that the installed equipment was already becoming outdated.

Four years afterwards, a new system was selected, with Smartrak to supply and support more modern gear.

Public Transport Victoria's smartphone app has stopped being a fancy version of the printed timetable and started telling us where the vehicle really is.

It was to be a staged rollout, timed to be complete some time in 2015. It now seems that's in fact happened, but those of us expecting fanfare when the Public Transport Victoria (PTV) smartphone app stopped being a fancy version of the printed timetable and started telling us where the vehicle really was, were mistaken.

There was an announcement in mid-2015 that GPS data for some routes would be made publicly available shortly, with further routes to be progressively included. The roll out was quietly completed last December, although data for a handful of routes was suspended last month due to "data inconsistencies".

We didn't pick up the PTV media release at the time, but we did keep an eye on their app with its 'next five' feature which harnesses real-time data on routes but only, as PTV's website still advises, where it's available.

Live bus GPS data
What fooled us into believing it wasn't yet available on the routes that matter to us, until just a couple of months ago, was that it commonly reports that a bus will arrive in 3, 2, 1, 0 minutes and then jumps to a prediction of 15 minutes as if the first had come and gone.

From this behaviour, you'd swear the app was simply reporting the printed timetable and not the reality on the road. But if you wait, the 15-minute estimate rapidly shrinks to a minute or two and the vehicle arrives just slightly late.

But when the GPS system in our car is so accurate, it's hard to see why the one in our buses can get so confused.

As Paul Mees would no doubt have observed, even if you can't actually improve timetabling (and to be fair to PTV, they seem to have done a fair bit of that lately) you can upgrade commuter experience simply by letting people know what's going on.

On a wet winter's night, if you're bound to miss the next bus, you're better off staying warm, dry and productive in the office for the next twenty minutes than camping out in the rain not knowing if the likely wait at the stop is five minutes or thirty.

And there's a handy CBD supermarket opposite our stop that we so often wanted to pop into on the way home, but never dared diverting to for fear of missing the next bus by a minute or two.

Knowing reliably that we have a few minutes to spare means we can save a separate trip to the shops near home later in the evening.

PTV had hoped that an app development competition in 2015 called Victripathon would spawn a number of innovative new apps harnessing the new access to its real time data. It doesn't seem to have set the world on fire, with the competition website offline for some months already.

But here's hoping that more techies get on board. When it comes to public transport, knowledge is indeed power.

Peter Moon is a technology lawyer with Cooper Mills. peter.moon@coopermills.com.au


* The first being AVM on selected government routes in the late 80s until turned off around the time Melbourne Bus Link was formed in the late 90s and the second the failed 2002-era SmartBus equipment that was turned off after about 3 years and replaced with the current SmartBus system from 2006 onwards.

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Re: Bus, Train & tram tracking app

Postby MAN 16.242 » Wed Dec 07, 2016 11:43 pm

Craig wrote:* The first being AVM on selected government routes in the late 80s until turned off around the time Melbourne Bus Link was formed in the late 90s
It wasn't turned off when Metbus was privatised. It actually lasted for 2-3 years under Melbourne Bus Link and was turned off in 2000/2001. Low floors 352-369 had AVM equipment
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Re: Bus, Train & tram tracking app

Postby Craig » Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:55 pm

Victorian Government wrote:Real-Time Travel Information On Geelong’s Bus Network
Minister for Public Transport

15 February 2017

Transport
Media Release
Western Victoria Region

20170215_RealTime_Bus_Geelong

Local passengers now have up-to-the-minute information about bus services in and around Geelong.

Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan announced today that real-time travel information is now available on Geelong’s bus network, making it easier for passengers to plan their journey.

Previously, passengers only had access to timetable information, meaning if there was an unexpected delay there was no way to tell the bus would be late.

The new real-time information – available through the Next 5 feature on the PTV App and website – provides up-to-date information about when the bus will come.

Passengers in the Geelong area already have access to real-time train information on screens at Geelong station, and at five other stations on the Geelong line.

In 2015, stations at Geelong, North Geelong, North Shore, Corio, Lara and Little River had real-time screens installed as part of a $5.8 million investment to provide real-time information at 33 regional stations.

The introduction of real-time bus information follows the introduction of 18 extra train services to Geelong every week in January, on top of the 200 extra services introduced in June 2015 with the opening of Labor’s $3.65 billion Regional Rail Link.

For real-time Geelong bus information, visit ptv.vic.gov.au.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan
“Real time information means passengers can find out exactly when their bus will arrive, even if something unexpected has happened.”
“We’re delivering more services and better information to get people in Geelong home safer and sooner.”

Quote attributable to Member for Lara John Eren
“No more waiting at the bus stop wondering when it will arrive. With real-time information you’ll know exactly when the bus will come, making it easier to plan your day.”

Quote attributable to Member for Bellarine Lisa Neville
“We’re putting more information in the hands of passengers, so they can make an informed choice about how and when they travel.”


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