With the hardware in place and app development under way, “Smart Bus” will be ready to roll into town by the end of November. The bus tracking and passenger counting system, developed by DoubleMap, will be implemented into the Summit Stage system to help visitors and locals alike keep track of their ride.
“This is a huge step forward, I think,” Summit County transit board chair Kent Willis said at a Summit County transit board meeting. “The sooner we have it, the better the guests, especially the out-of-town guests, are going to do. Having it by New Year or Christmas-time would be best.”
Summit Stage Director Jim Andrew said they hoped to have the first phase of the system up and running by Nov. 22.
The initial phase will feature a smartphone app and a website passengers can use to track buses on a map in real time and pull up route information. It will also include a passenger counting system to help Summit Stage assess which routes see the most traffic at different times of year.
In the future, the system will also be able to text an estimated time of arrival for a bus at any particular Summit Stage stop for passengers who do not have smartphones.
The second phase of the project, originally set to be implemented early next year, will include an on-board annunciation system, with both a voice and an LED sign that will name the next stop on the line.
“Right now, our drivers are announcing stops, but that’s kind of hit-or miss,” Andrews said.
The system will also feature electronic signs at bus stops, listing the time to the next bus.
While not drafted in plans, Willis noted that, at some point, he would like to include other local bus routes, such as Breckenridge’s Free Ride system, to help passengers plan their entire route.
“There are people coming from the north side of the county to Breckenridge who need to interface with the Free Ride,” he said. “I think, ultimately, that it would be really nice to be able to coordinate and have both systems sync with each other.”
The project, with a one-time acquisition cost of about $479,000, was made possible with a $60,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation to aid the Stage with installing a passenger counting system.
Phase one was estimated at $222,415, with phase two coming in at $207,174. Annual maintenance costs come in just under $50,000.
“It’s going pretty well,” Andrew said. “DoubleMap is doing a great job. … We hope to have the entire system done by April of next year.”