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County, Santa Rosa bus services start online tracking system

  • Operator Joy Ng hands out bus fares while driving the Route 6 Santa Rosa City Bus on Monday, April 8, 2013. Sonoma County buses will soon receive GPS tracking so that passengers can see exactly where each bus is located using a computer or smartphone. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

Upgrades planned to Sonoma County Transit and Santa Rosa CityBus could make running errands and commuting a little easier for bus riders this summer.

Both transit agencies are planning to implement real-time arrival and departure notification systems over the course of the next several months.

Sonoma County Transit's system will allow users to check arrival status on their smartphones, laptops, handheld devices and at shelter kiosks, according to an agency report for the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.

"The system we envision will provide real-time bus scheduling information via your smartphone, at signs and transit shelters," said Bryan Albee, who manages the transit division of the county's Department of Transportation and Public Works.

Santa Rosa CityBus was approved for a similar plan in July 2012, and has been in the process of installing a real-time system in several buses, said Jason Parrish, administrative services manager for CityBus.

CityBus, which has a fleet of 37, will have a system that uses predictive algorithms to update timetables, and then sends text alerts to passengers, Parrish said. Five city buses received the new system, which is from Pennsylvania-based Avail Technologies, on Friday.

Melanie Conner, who uses the transit system for her commute from Rohnert Park to Santa Rosa, thinks the change will be positive.

"I think the new upgrades will be great," said Conner, who typically takes four different buses to get to her office in Stony Point Business Park. "We'll be able to know if the bus is late (ahead) of time."

Conner said the bus usually gets her to work on time.

"We didn't want just the basics like telling us when the bus is coming," Parrish said. "It's an enhanced system that has a few additional things included."


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