TARTA debuts computerized bus-tracking systemWritten by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
TARTA debuted its new computerized bus-locating system on Sept. 24, allowing riders to pinpoint the real-time location of their bus and its estimated time of arrival at their stop.
TARTA Tracker uses satellites and predictive computer software to generate the position of buses and predict arrival times, said Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA) general manager James Gee during a news conference at Downtown Toledo’s Park Station.
“When you walk to a bus stop the first thing you think is, ‘When is my bus going to be here?’ and this answers that question,” Gee said. “It takes the uncertainly out of your bus ride.”
The tracker can be accessed from a computer, smartphone or mobile device by visiting
TARTATracker.com. Riders can view routes, locate nearby stops or search by street name or route number to view a list of stops and bus arrival times.
Those without Internet access can call TARTA at (419) 243-RIDE (7433) to speak with a representative using TARTA Tracker in the office. Riders can also sign up for alerts via text message, email or browser, letting them know, for example, when their bus is 15 minutes away from their stop, Gee said.
“The alerts were available before, but only with printed schedule information,” Gee said. “Now we’re providing real-time information, which is new.”
Tracking is currently available for a few hundred stops on TARTA’s busiest bus routes, but the goal is to eventually provide TARTA Tracker information for all 2,400 bus stops, Gee said.
“We’ve been tracking the buses with GPS technology for several years. What we’ve done now is taken our GPS information and overlaid on top of that real-time schedule information and predictive schedule information,” Gee said.
About 65 percent of TARTA’s passengers use smartphones, according to data collected during the past year of research and development leading up to the launch of TARTA Tracker. The bus line reports 12,000 passenger boardings per day.
“We are changing how customers interact with TARTA. All in all, we’re not the same old TARTA,” Gee said. “We’ll be able to provide better information to you and, as a result, you the customer will be able to make better decisions on how to use our service.”
The TARTA Tracker technology and website was developed by Clever Devices, a Woodbury, N.Y.-based company. The mobile website was developed by Maumee-based Hart.
“We’re not the first city to do this, but we’re on the leading part of the wave,” Gee said. “Around Ohio, Cleveland has a similar product, but I’m not sure if anyone else does yet.”
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority debuted a real-time tracker system called NextConnect last year.
About 300 transit systems in 41 states use one of Clever Devices’ transportation technology products, although not all use the bus-tracking technology, said director of marketing Amy Miller, who said the company is the largest of its type in North America.
About 25 transit systems utilize real-time passenger information products similar to Toledo’s, including Chicago Transit Authority and the Ohio State University bus system, Miller said.
TARTA Tracker heralds a “new era” for TARTA, said Steve Atkinson, director of marketing, at the news conference.
“The TARTA Tracker is a totally new way of answering passenger questions, such as ‘Where is the nearest TARTA bus stop?’ ‘What bus should I take?’ ‘Is my bus on time?’ To answer these and many other questions is now as close as your computer, your mobile device or your phone.”
QR codes are being installed on TARTA buses, shelters and stations. The codes will automatically access the TARTA Tracker when scanned by a mobile device.
Shaheed Rashad of Toledo said he normally doesn’t stress about bus schedules because he is self-employed and has a flexible schedule, but said TARTA Tracker will be handy when it gets cold.
“Especially in the winter season, you might not want to be out waiting for a long period of time,” Rashad said. “I can look on my computer before I leave and … I might wait for five minutes, but at least I know it’s coming and it’s not delayed or I missed it.”
Rashad’s fiancée, Shelly Taylor of Toledo, said she likes the idea of being able to track her son’s bus to and from school.
“It’s convenient for someone with kids. I wait for my son Downtown and we go home together so for me it’d be convenient to know about what time he’s going to come,” Taylor said. “It’s peace of mind. To me, it’s really beneficial.”
Owens Community College student Bryanna Simpson of Toledo said she would use TARTA Tracker to time catching her bus to and from school.
“Sometimes you don’t know if it’s going to be late, or like this morning, it was a couple minutes early, so if you don’t know that, you might miss it,” Simpson said. “If you knew that, it would be more helpful.”
TARTA Tracker is not available for Call-A-Ride or Toledo Area Regional Paratransit Service (TARPS), which provide at-home pickup of riders. For more information, visit TARTA Tracker.com.
Tags: Around Ohio, Call-A-Ride, Cleveland, Clever Devices, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Hart, Maumee, New York, QR codes, Shaheed Rashad, Steve Atkinson, TARTA, Toledo Area Regional Paratransit Service (TARPS), Woodbury