During the week of August 18, HART plans to launch a much-anticipated new digital app for mobile devices with web browsers, smart phones, and computers. The innovative OneBusAway Tampa app delivers up-to-the-minute details to transit riders, using GPS technology to tell them exactly where their bus is and if it is running on time.
Sheryl Laxson, who has used HART for many years as her main source of transportation, volunteered to help test the app during the pilot program phase. “The link that I was given to download OneBusAway worked great.” reports Laxson. “I also was able to go to Google Play on my tablet and easily found and downloaded the app for that device.” She says the app was especially useful during recent thunderstorms, because if her bus was delayed she could seek shelter indoors. “The app takes some of the guesswork out of situations where the bus may be stuck in traffic, there’s a detour, or is just running a little late,” Laxson explains.
Local worker and student Christopher Guerrero also tested the app. “It allows for individuals to better schedule their time,” he says. In fact, the first time Guerrero used the app, it told him he had three minutes to catch his bus. He hurried to his stop, got there in time, and saved a full 30 minutes on his commute that day.
OneBusAway Tampa has also improved call response times at HART. When a patron calls in to inquire “Where is my bus?” they can now receive an answer within a matter of seconds. Customer service does not have to interrupt dispatch by calling them, so efficiency and service are both significantly enhanced. But once the app is launched to the public, HART patrons will have direct individual access to this real-time bus location data.
Empowering the public in this way will reduce the need for them to contact customer service because they will have the answers they need right at their fingertips. That ensures that the new app is a substantially value-adding win-win that saves riders time while saving taxpayer dollars. HART is fully committed to providing the best customer experience with the recent implementation of HART MetroRapid North-South and the upcoming roll out of features like OneBusAway Tampa.
Meanwhile, the high-tech initiative facilitated a unique creative collaboration between HART and nearby universities. The Center for Urban Transportation at University of South Florida is leading the software development, with funding from the National Center for Transit Research.
Similarly, Georgia Tech is evaluating the impact of real-time information on transit system measures such as but not limited to, perceptions of transit safety and reliability, customer satisfaction, and ridership, with funding from the National Center for Transportation Systems Productivity and Management.