A few weeks ago, in an effort to broaden my horizons by attending the North Carolina State Fair, I did something I had never done before—take the bus.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a stranger to public transportation. After frequenting the trains and subways of my hometown New York, I have mastered what I consider the art of public transportation—getting from point A to B in as little time as possible, with as little communication with other commuters as possible. As a result, I considered myself extremely prepared to take the short bus ride from Durham to Raleigh. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
My primary expectations for public transportation were shattered that sunny Friday. One commuter’s relentless attempt to convert me to the “word of Jesus” entirely violated my goal of avoiding public transit interactions. And just in case I was not uncomfortable enough, I quickly realized I had no idea how to work the bus system—choosing a particular bus at a specific time can drastically affect the simplicity and length of the trip. This is pretty basic information, except without any information at my disposal, I spent most of the trip asking bus drivers for help as I found myself at Durham Station, Regional Transit Center and even Terminal 1 of the RDU airport.
Case and point, the bus system was hardly convenient and navigable.
Thankfully, GoTriangle, an information partnership of regional public transportation agencies and organizations, has implemented GoLive, a free automated tool providing public transportation riders with real-time arrival predictions, to aid commuters in planning their trip.
According to the GoTriangle news release, GoLive will provide real-time arrival predictions for Triangle Transit, Chapel Hill Transit, the Durham Area Transit Authority, Capital Area Transit in Raleigh, the N.C. State University Wolfline and next year, C-Tran in Cary. GoLive is meant to make public transit easier for commuters in that people can request and receive arrival times and predictions.
“Knowledge is power,” wrote Ayana Hernandez, director of the programs chair at Fleishman-Hillard, a public relations agency, in an email Thursday. “While many students may have a car or other transportation available, we hope that the GoLive option assists them in using an alternative to the automobile.”
Commuters can access GoLive through text message or online, Hernandez said. They can also use TransLoc, an application for smartphones, which is accessible to Android, Blackberry and iPhone users.
“GoLive is the first regional use of real-time transit information in the country”, Hernandez said. “[It] is a logical extension of our goal to make more transit information available to the rider.”
Brad Schulz, a spokesman for Triangle Transit, said there have been three major technological advances for commuters—Google transit, GoLive and the placing of WiFi on all of the Triangle Transit buses.
“As you get more people into the idea of using public transit you want to make sure that they have the tools to make it acceptable and convenient for them,” said Schulz. “We understand that folks are concerned not only about their mobility…. But they want to be able to have the information at their discretion.”
Another positive effect of GoLive, said Schulz, is that since travelers can plan their trips easily with this tool, more people will use public transportation, which will result in the reduction of carbon emissions.
“Public transportation in Durham has had a dramatic effect in reducing the amount of pollutants from automobiles in the air,” he said.
The Duke community also benefits from public transportation, said Schulz.
According to a survey given in April, 38 percent of riders on the bull city connector were affiliated with Duke, with 15 percent being students, he said. Additionally, roughly 27,000 people boarded DATA or Triangle Transit with a Duke issued GoPass in the first month of August.
“We have been trying to come up with a way to harness technology…to meet the needs of people who are very much on the go,” Schulz said. “Technology is a tool for them to help improve their quality of life.”
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