Wednesday 26 April 2017

Electronic display a sign of the times for bus stops

Shane Hickey

YOU'LL still have to wait for the bus. But at least you will know for how long.

Frustrated commuters glancing nervously down the road for their bus have been given some small relief, although it is not more frequent transport on routes.

A number of state agencies yesterday unveiled the first in a series of new screens which will stand at a selection of bus stops to tell people exactly how long they will have to wait for the next bus.

The electronic screens, which are used in cities across Europe, including London and Cardiff, give commuters exact timings through global positioning equipment which has been fitted to 1,000 Dublin buses.

The project, which is spear-headed by the National Transport Authority (NTA), will be rolled out to Galway, Limerick and Waterford by the end of the year.

At present, 10 signs in Dublin Bus's north east sector -- in areas such as the Howth Road and the Malahide Road -- have been erected. They are updated with information every 30 seconds.

It is expected that there will be 250 signs by the end of the summer.

The total number of signs -- 450 -- will be completed by the end of the year, said Gerry Murphy, the chief executive of the NTA, which is funding the €6.5m scheme.

The signs are being placed at the busiest bus stops in the city.

"Immediately at the bus stop, there are a number of bus routes and people can make the choice of which one they are going to take," he said.

"It captures the casual person, they may stay on and take the bus. People like the assurance of the timing."

The system has been developed by Dublin City Council and is being operated with Dublin Bus.

A spokesperson for the transport operator said 1,000 buses had been fitted with the necessary technology.

However, passengers will still have to wait the same amount of time for their bus, even if they will know how long they will be waiting. "The key thing for people is that at least you know how long it will be," the spokesperson said.

It is also expected that the service will increase revenue for Dublin Bus as people casually walking past may opt to take a bus if there is one due soon.

A text-messaging service and applications for mobile phones are also being developed for release at the end of the year.

Passengers are now being asked for their views of the new system, which will eventually also carry details of private operators.

Irish Independent

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