1. Transportation

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.
Published Aug. 19, 2013

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 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."


  1. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. TMCCARTY  |  times staff
    The driver’s injuries appear non-life threatening, and a suspect is in custody.
  2. Travelers make their way to baggage claim at Orlando International Airport in August. Officials expect 1.75 million passengers to pass through the airport during the Thanksgiving holiday season.
    Officials at Orlando International Airport on Monday said they expect traffic to increase 6% from 2018.
  3. More than 800 rear-seat passengers who weren’t wearing seat belts were killed last year in U.S. traffic crashes.
  4. MSC Cruises brought the MSC Meraviglia to Port Miami to begin its first-ever season of sailing from Florida. The 171,598-gross-ton, 4,500-passenger vessel is tied with a sister ship as the 7th largest ship in the world. MSC CRUISES
    Meraviglia, which means “wonder” in Italian, debuted in 2017, and has among unique offerings a 450-person venue for original Cirque du Soleil shows.
  5. Much work has been completed on the Selmon Extension project, but we still have a way to go before the construction and ongoing detours on Gandy Boulevard end by the projected fall 2020 completion date. MONIQUE WELCH  |  Monique Welch | Times
    The ongoing project along Gandy Boulevard began in February but still has a lot of work left before its projected fall 2020 completion date.
  6. Dade City wants to put its planned bicycle hub in a city park near Church and Eighth streets adjoining the trailhead of the Roy Hardy Trail. The land already has been designated as the future home of a splash pad. Dade City
    A planned welcome center for cycling enthusiasts originally had been slated for a historic train depot
  7. Tampa International Airport looking north. The Wall Street Journal ranked it the best midsize airport in America. [Times files]
    TPA took first place in the Wall Street Journal’s annual survey of U.S. airports.
  8. Nov. 14• Associated Press
    A Brightline train heading from West Palm Beach to Miami pulls in Thursday afternoon at the station in Fort Lauderdale. [Emily Michot/Miami Herald]
    Brightline trains have killed more than a dozen people since 2017.
  9. Florida had 381,300 jobs in the manufacturing sector in September. [Times 2016]
    No matter how many times you hear that the country doesn’t make anything anymore, don’t believe it.
  10. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is lit up in patriotic red white and blue colors in honor of Veteran's Day 2019. This view is shot from Skyway Beach looking south. Shot with a 400mm f4.0 lens with an ISO of 100 at F11 with a 10 second exposure. BOYZELL HOSEY  |  Tampa Bay Times
    FDOT engineers switched on a patriotic theme in a colorful tribute to veterans.