Citizens can now track the exact location of any bus in the Athens Public Transit system in real time using a mobile or web app.
Athens Public Transit is trying to cut down on the uncertainty that comes with waiting for its buses.
Residents can now track the exact location of any bus in the Athens Public Transit system in real time using a mobile or web app, the transportation agency announced in a press release Thursday.
The service costs between $35,000 and $36,000 and will be available for roughly two years said Transportation Services Manager for Athens Public Transit Michael Lachman.
He added 80 percent of that cost is covered by a federal grant secured by the city.
The service, which gets a two-and-a-half out of five star rating on the Apple App Store, also lets users calculate estimated arrival times based on the buses’ actual locations.
The service can be accessed via smartphone, tablet or PC through apps available for free on both Google Play and the Apple App Store, according to the transit’s website.
The app reveals a top-down view of Athens, along with a list of bus routes that can be toggled on or off. When activated, users can see their selected buses’ locations, represented by color-coded dots.
Clicking on an individual bus stop generates a time estimate of when the next bus will arrive at that stop. The mobile app also remembers specific users’ most visited routes.
Lachman, who rides the bus frequently and has been utilizing the mobile app, said the service is pretty exact.
“There is a short lag, but it’s pretty darn accurate,” Lachman said, adding the city’s main motivation for implementing the service is making city buses more accessible.
“The number one reason is that it’s a huge convenience for people riding the bus,” Lachman said. “The process of waiting on the bus is uncertain and anxiety producing.”
Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl added residents could even use the app to escape the cold during winter months.
"The real-time (feature) gives you the ability to say, ‘Okay I can grab a cup of coffee and then stand out in the cold’,” Wiehl said.
Olayemi Olurin, a senior studying political science, downloaded the app as soon as she found out about it and said she loves the idea.
Brock DeWeese, a senior studying exercise physiology and living in Carriage Hill Apartments, said he became more inclined to take the bus after learning about the app.
Campus Area Transit Service buses can also be tracked using Double Map, though they are on their own Ohio University specific map.
Lachman said that may change in the not-so-distant future.
Some of Double Map Inc.’s other clients include: the University of Michigan, University of Florida and the city of Columbia, MO.