Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

With new app, Hillsborough bus riders can track their ride

Commuters board the No. 30 Hart bus at the Marion Street Transit Center in Tampa. With the new OneBusAway app and website, users can check their computers or smartphones to see when the next bus is coming or if they’ve missed the last one. This should help users avoid the heat and rain that so often come with waiting for a bus in Florida.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times (2012)

Commuters board the No. 30 Hart bus at the Marion Street Transit Center in Tampa. With the new OneBusAway app and website, users can check their computers or smartphones to see when the next bus is coming or if they’ve missed the last one. This should help users avoid the heat and rain that so often come with waiting for a bus in Florida.

TAMPA — Waiting for a public bus in Florida can mean braving heat and summer deluges without knowing whether your ride is five minutes away or 30.

That changes today, when Hillsborough Area Regional Transit unveils a new website and smartphone app that will allow public transit riders to track their bus in real time.

The free OneBusAway app will use the phone's Global Positioning System to place the user on a map that shows all the nearest transit routes and how far away the next bus on each is, then estimate an arrival time to the minute. It will also let you know if you've just missed the No. 7 bus so that you can grab a cup of java from the air-conditioned comfort of the nearest coffee house until the next bus arrives.

"They'll know if their bus is on the way without just standing out there in the heat or the rain," HART spokeswoman Sandra Morrison said. "So they can plan accordingly."

OneBusAway has been nearly a year in the planning. It began as a research project at the University of Washington, where a professor and some students with an interest in transit teamed with volunteers to create a bus tracking system for transit systems in the Puget Sound area. It has since been adapted for use in New York City.

The University of South Florida's Center for Urban Transportation Research secured $150,000 from the National Center for Transit Research to make the apps available in other cities, including Tampa. Atlanta is also launching its own system.

Using free, open-source software available to anyone with the know-how to use it, the system uses global positioning information from the buses to place them on a map. Click the corresponding bus icon and color-coded travel time estimates pop up, with blue meaning the bus is behind schedule and red indicating it may arrive early. A minus sign before the numbers explains that you missed the bus by that much.

Working with a team from the Georgia Institute of Technology, the group at USF conducted a pilot project with 400 participants, half of whom got to use the app or website. They haven't finished crunching the numbers yet, but so far the reviews appear favorable.

In Washington, riders said they felt they were waiting less time for buses to arrive, and they actually were, said Sean Barbeau, a researcher at CUTR who has spearheaded the local effort. So the service has the potential to improve how the public perceives transit as a viable mode of travel.

"This has definitely been a rewarding project," Barbeau said, "because it has had a real-world impact and will definitely make people's lives easier in terms of accessing transit."

From a computer, transit riders can track buses from the website tampa.onebusaway.org. On a smartphone, search for the OneBusAway app. It's available for Android, Windows Phone and iPhone users. (The iPhone app is still in beta testing and defaults to the greater Puget Sound transit systems. Directions for adjusting settings to make it work in Hillsborough are available at the website.)

County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, a board member of HART, said the app is overdue. He has been pushing for modernization of the county's bus system, including offering Wi-Fi for passengers.

"I have been very impatient to move our bus system into the tech world," Sharpe said. "This is just the beginning."

With new app, Hillsborough bus riders can track their ride 08/18/13 [Last modified: Sunday, August 18, 2013 11:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. New Florida driver's licenses available in Tampa Bay

    State Roundup

    The new Florida IDs are beginning to roll out across the state, with some locations in Tampa Bay already carrying the cards.

    The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles announced it will begin to issue the new Florida driver license and ID card this month in various locations across the state. [Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles]
  2. Come on down, former 'Price Is Right' announcer Rich Fields; you're the new afternoon DJ on Q105

    Blogs

    There's a new afternoon drive host on classic hits radio station WRBQ-FM, better known as "Q105."

  3. From the food editor: Five things I'm enjoying in the food world right now

    Cooking

    Sometimes your notebook is scribbled with little thoughts here and there, things you come across in the food world and want to share but aren't sure how or when. Well, folks, I need to get some of this off my chest. Here is a somewhat random collection of culinary things I am really enjoying right now:

    Espresso Sea Salt Cookie Sandwiches with a cooked buttercream frosting, from St. Petersburg home bakery Wandering Whisk Bakeshop. Photo by Jennifer Jacobs.
  4. In Syria's Raqqa, IS makes last stand at city's stadium

    World

    BEIRUT — U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led forces battling the Islamic State group in Syria captured the city hospital in Raqqa on Tuesday, leaving IS militants holed up at the local stadium, their last stand in the fight over what was once the extremists' de facto capital.

    This frame grab from video released Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 and provided by Furat FM, a Syrian Kurdish activist-run media group, shows Syrian Islamic State group fighters who surrendered entering a base of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in Raqqa, Syria. A spokesman for the SDF in Syria says it will be in control of the northern city of Raqqa "within a few days" after attacking the last pocket held by the Islamic State group. SDF fighters launched an operation to retake the last IS-held pocket of Raqqa after some 275 militants and their family members surrendered. [Furat FM via AP]
  5. Florida education news: Constitution changes, #HB7069, school security and more

    Blogs

    NEW RULES: Once every 20 years, Florida convenes a commission to examine whether the state constitution needs amending. Education — Article IX — can play a pivotal role, and this time around the subject appears to be coming into focus for possible change. Members of the public already have