PA: Is T on schedule? There's An App for That

July 18--Port Authority of Allegheny County took a key step on Thursday toward offering T passengers real-time train arrival data.

A board committee recommended spending $6.8 million to buy equipment and software through a contract with Clever Devices Ltd. The contract includes a real-time data system linked to fareboxes, and replacement of the vehicle announcement system. The full board likely will vote on the contract next week.

Port Authority is in the midst of updating its entire system of buses and rail cars with real-time travel information available on the agency's website, portauthority.org. So far, five bus routes -- P1, P3, 8 Perrysville, 48 Arlington and 86 Liberty -- offer real-time data. Another batch is expected to be online in days, spokesman Jim Ritchie said.

All bus routes are expected to be online by the end of the year, and the T is scheduled to be online sometime next year, Ritchie said.

"(If approved), this basically gives the go-ahead for GPS equipment for the light-rail system. Light rail is a little bit trickier because of the subway system," Ritchie said. "We are also planning to install a mix of digital screens throughout the system during the course of the project."

Ritchie said two app developers are in the process of incorporating Port Authority data for smartphone apps.

Port Authority announced the first real-time bus data -- on the P1 East Busway route -- nearly a year ago.

"Technology is a good thing. It'll probably save the operator because they won't be screamed at if they're running behind," said Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 President Steve Palonis. "Now people will know if the bus is stuck in traffic from looking at their phones."

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

Copyright 2014 - The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

 

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