C-Tran announces phone system to track the next bus

Riders can call number to find out how long the wait for next arrival will be

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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Buses do fall behind schedule.

But C-Tran riders can find out whether they are in for a five-minute wait or a 10-minute wait with one quick phone call.

NextRide is as easy as 1-2-3

  1. Call C-Tran’s passenger service line at 360-695-0123 and choose “Option 1.”
  2. When prompted, enter the four-digit bus stop ID number on the bus stop sign (not all signs have an ID number yet; you can follow the prompts and let NextRide find the ID number.)
  3. NextRide provides the estimated arrival time based on GPS real-time information, plus the next four scheduled arrival times.

A new system called “NextRide,” will give riders estimated real-time arrivals for every C-Tran bus stop, Jim Quintana said Friday.

Quintana, senior manager for development and public affairs for the regional public transportation provider, said the system has been tested by a select group of riders.

“It’s pretty cool and we are very excited about it,” Quintana said.

The system uses GPS satellites to track buses.

Riders can call 360-695-0123 to find out when their bus is scheduled to arrive using the bus stop’s four-digit ID number.

Not all stops have the ID number posted yet, but users can follow the prompts on NextRide to figure it out, Quintana said.

He anticipates that eventually bus stops will have electronic signs with the real-time information posted, but for now people will have to rely on a phone.

He said a group of riders tested the system. One issue has been that C-Tran express commuters in downtown Portland receive intermittent estimates because tall buildings interfere with signals.

“We knew that would happen,” Quintana said. “We are going to cellular radio in 2012, so that should solve the problem.”

In addition to telling callers the real-time arrival time, NextRide can also provide the next four scheduled arrival times, he said, minimizing the need for printed schedules.

“We’re proud to offer such a useful tool for our riders giving them easy access to information they need to keep moving in an increasingly mobile world,” said Jeff Hamm, C-Tran executive director, in a statement released Friday. “If you have a phone, you have your NextRide.”

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com.