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Marsha McLean: City transit adopts ‘on-the-go’ technologies

Posted: November 17, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 17, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

Times are changing and so has technology. When using public transportation, we want to know where to board the bus or when the next one will arrive. The city of Santa Clarita has invested in a variety of new, high-tech tools to reduce waiting and boarding times and help passengers get to where they need to go.

Thanks to smartphones and computers, Santa Clarita Transit users have a variety of “on-the-go” technologies to help them get around faster and easier.

Earlier this year, the city installed more than 700 placards at bus stops throughout the community and areas served by Santa Clarita Transit commuter routes in Los Angeles, Century City, Chatsworth, Warner Center and North Hollywood. The placards provide a variety of mobile platforms to help riders get real-time bus information.

Using the placards available at each bus stop, customers can receive up-to-the-minute transit information by scanning a quick response, or “QR,” code using their smartphones. The QR codes are specific to each bus stop location and can be read by any smartphone after downloading a free code scanning application available through each mobile provider. Since the installation of the placards, thousands of riders use the quick response codes monthly to find the current location of their bus.

Community members can also obtain the same real-time bus information by sending a text message to Santa Clarita Transit. Simply text the five-digit stop ID number located on each placard to Santa Clarita Transit, and the interactive system will send users a response with information specific to that location. Although this service has only been operational since June 2012, Santa Clarita Transit already sends more than 25,500 text messages per month to customers looking for bus information.

We haven’t forgotten those that are not into certain technologies. In addition to mobile phone services, the city also installed Bus Finder units and 30 LED arrival display signs at select, high-volume stops to allow customers without Internet access to information at bus stops. To view transit arrival information on one of the blue Bus Finder units, simply press the button on the blue display unit that directly corresponds with the route and receive real-time scheduled and arrival times specific to that stop.

Other city transit technology platforms include: a mobile-friendly website, m.santa-clarita.com, that allows riders to easily download bus schedules and access to bus information; an online Bus Finder map that allows customers to identify a route’s arrival time from their computer prior to boarding the bus; and a Santa Clarita Transit Android application available for download from the Google Play store. An iPhone application is planned for early 2013.

In the coming months, Santa Clarita Transit will roll-out free Wi-Fi connection service for its entire fleet of Commuter Express buses so riders can search the Internet or get a head start on work before walking into the office. Video monitors are also being installed in all Santa Clarita Transit vehicles as another way to provide riders with a visual representation of where the bus is located along its route, as well as showcase various City programs and events.

As traffic congestion grows, gas prices fluctuate and people work further from home, the integration of technology driven systems becomes critical to serving larger metropolitan areas and connecting agencies to one another for seamless transit connections.

The city of Santa Clarita prides itself on being a technically savvy municipality. We recognize that most of our residents not only want convenient technology-based access to their local government, but prefer interaction using their mobile devices. Transit technologies like the cities various “on the go” services not only help customers transition easily and confidently from one area to the next, but also enhance regional transit connectivity, efficiency and reliability.

For more information about Santa Clarita Transit, contact 661-294-1BUS (1287) or visit SantaClaritaTransit.com.

Marsha McLean is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at mmclean@santa-clarita.com.

 

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