'Smart buses' coming to Edmonton

Edmonton Transit has awarded a contract to equip 45 buses with so-called Smart Bus technology.

Riders can dial up to see if their bus is on time

Edmonton Transit has awarded a contract to equip 45 city buses with so-called Smart Bus technology.

"We'll be able to provide real-time information through various electronic media," said Ken Koropeski, director of service development and fleet support.

"Passengers will have more accurate information on when their buses will be arriving at their bus stops."

The technology will change the way people interact with public transit in the city, said Coun. Don Iveson.

"A couple of years ago we got Google Transit which told you when the bus was supposed to be there and this technology is going to tell you when it's actually going to get there," he said.

Technology expected in large cities

Iveson said the technology is expected in large cities where transit is a way of life for most of the population.

"We have a reasonably good bus system when everything is working perfectly," he said. "The way to make sure you still have a good bus system and a good experience for your riders is to let them know when something is not working properly."

The technology will also make the system more convenient for people on the bus, said Koropeski.

"We will have both visual and audio next-stop announcements on the buses," he said. "As they're approaching their next bus stop, they'll know which one it is."

But, more importantly, the technology will give ETS inspectors and controllers information on where the buses are at all times and greater ability to manage incidents involving ETS buses, Koropeski said. 

The system will first be used on Route 111, from downtown to West Edmonton Mall, and Route 128, from the university to Castledowns.

ETS plans to get the buses on the road by April 2013. 

The first phase of the rollout will cost ETS $3.4 million, while installation on the entire ETS fleet is estimated to cost $32 million.

The city announced on Thursday that the contract was awarded to Trapeze Group.