NJ Transit Gets in the Real Time Transit Info Game

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(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  UPDATED with NJ Transit comments: New Jersey transit has issued a $22 million contract to outfit some 1000 buses with hardware and software to convey real-time transit information.

The investment, according to an NJ transit spokesman, Dan Stessel, means that all NJ transit bus riders will be able to get real-time information on where the all 2000 NJ Transit buses are by text, mobile phone, or via the internet by the end of 2012.

Stessel said it would be a "reasonable expectation" to assume some riders would get real time arrival information earlier than that, but NJ Transit isn't prepared to say when, exactly, that might be.

The agency follows Boston's bus system, Seattle, San Francisco, and other cities who have made their actual bus location data available to the public.  The NYC MTA is currently piloting such a system on the B63 route in Brooklyn, and expects to have all of Staten Island outfitted by the end of 2011, with the other borough soon to follow.  It hasn't offered a schedule for the other boroughs.

NJ Transit said in its press release:

"The Clever Devices platform offers many operational and customer benefits, including automatic bus stop announcements, vehicle condition monitoring, passenger counting, and real-time location reporting.  The technology, together with an upcoming procurement for a new radio system, will ultimately enable NJ TRANSIT to deliver real-time bus location and arrival information to any web-enabled device, letting customers know when their bus is expected to arrive at their stop."

The NYC MTA recently spent about $500,000 on a 30-bus pilot in Brooklyn.   NJ Transit says it doesn't expect further costs than the $22 million, and that it can develop necessary software in-house.