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. 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.
  2. Yesterday• 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. The Falcon 9 rocket sits on Kennedy Space Center's historic Pad 39A in Cape Canaveral on Thursday.[SpaceX via AP]
    The company deployed a second batch of 60 satellites for its Starlink communications constellation.
  6. Northwood Plams Boulevard in Wesley Chapel has been closed for six months for sewer repair, and residents are ready for it to reopen. After a couple delays, Pasco County expects the project to be complete by the end of the week. Times File
    A Wesley Chapel reader wants to know when Northwood Palms Boulevard will reopen.
  7. Shown here are photographs of damaged parking meters along Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg. Those responsible for the damage were arrested Friday evening, according to city police. Times
    Three times in two weeks, police found city parking meters damaged with foam. Now a man and woman are in custody on felony charges.
  8. Metered parking spots like these along the 200 block of First Avenue S in St. Petersburg, along with spots in surrounding areas, have been changed to include weekend and more evening hours. DANIEL FIGUEROA IV  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The city recently extended metered hours to include nights and weekends and is working to phase out most free parking downtown.
  9. Pat and Harvey Partridge visit Waiheke Island in New Zealand in April. A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board shows Partridge struggled to find the runway on approach to Raleigh-Durham International Airport last month before the Piper he was flying struck a pine tree and crashed. Both of them were killed. Courtesy of David Partridge
    Harvey Partridge told a tower controller he had the runway in sight just before crashing into a 100-foot tall pine tree, according to the NTSB.
  10. Nov. 5• Transportation
    Tampa traffic backs up at a familiar spot: near the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts before a show. Where's that transportation tax we voted in to soothe our traffic woes? URSO, CHRIS  |  Tampa Bay Times
    With the transportation tax in legal limbo, maybe not so much. But public officials give some hope.