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COTA Launching Real-Time Bus Tracking System in 2014

Brent Warren Brent Warren COTA Launching Real-Time Bus Tracking System in 2014
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COTA has set March 2014 as the target date to debut a long-awaited and highly-requested service for its users — the ability to track buses in real time from smart phones or from digital signs installed at select stations.

“This service will enable our customers to see where buses are in real-time, just like our radio-central does,” said Marty Stutz, VP of Communications at COTA.

Testing will begin this fall on the feature, which COTA hopes to introduce at the same time as a new, revamped website. The real-time information will be accessed from the website, which will be configured for mobile users.

Stutz said that the first screens (sometimes called “tickers”), will be tested at Broad and High late this year or early next. The plan is to eventually place the screens at busy stops and transfer locations throughout the system, including along the proposed downtown circulator route.

This is the second attempt for COTA at providing real-time information for their riders – in 2006 riders could track buses on their website, but that feature, which Stutz said was not as reliable as we want for customer use, was eventually removed.

In other COTA news, upgrades are planned for its two downtown terminals. The north terminal, which is on Spring Street between High and Front Streets, will receive a new enclosed waiting area while the south terminal, which is located in the Columbus Commons Main Garage, will see new signage and brighter lights. Upgrades will also be made to both terminals to accommodate new, taller, buses that run on compressed natural gas. Plans for the terminals were submitted last month to the Downtown Commission for conceptual review, and Stutz said that COTA hopes to have them both completed by Red, White and Boom next summer.

For ongoing updates and discussion on COTA, CLICK HERE to visit our messageboard.

More information can be found online at www.cota.com.

Photo via Data Display USA.

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  • MichaelC

    This news is so good I had to make sure it wasn’t April 1.

  • columbusmike

    Yeah, this is a HUGE step forward towards getting more cbus residents to using COTA. I hope they plan on installing the digital boards at all their stops….it’s a really great attention grabber, and makes the entire system MUCH more user friendly.

  • columbusmike

    This is a much more attractive display by the same company:

  • Very cool to see this finally rolling out. I use the google maps app on my phone to check bus schedules pretty easily already, but having real-time info will be a nice step up.

  • billiejean

    I rode the CABS buses at OSU 10 times more often after they installed the real time tracking. This is AWESOME.

  • AndyID

    Any word about whether they are going to lock up access to the data inside a custom app, or open it up so that it can be mashed into existing transit apps and Google Maps?

  • @AndyID – COTA’s current data is open source, and accessible here:


    Probably safe to assume it will continue to be open source?

  • Mister MooCow

    COTA should just provide open-access to their data and let other services aggregate/display/integrate it (can you say “Google Maps Transit Partner Program”? http://maps.google.com/help/maps/mapcontent/transit/ ).

    COTA’s core competency is (ostensibly) mass transit; providing mobile apps/platforms should be left to the experts.

  • Eugene_C

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but they had this once before and it went away. I’m not imagining this am I? I Distinctly remember looking at a web page with moving buses on it about 8 or so years ago.

  • Ned23

    Okay they’re going to need a REALLY HUGE sign for the bus stops near High and Broad streets. That one in the picture is not going to do it.

  • stephentszuter

    Any update on this effort? :) I’d love to see it this month!

  • stephentszuter
  • mal7798

    Eugene_C, yes, they had this feature until the spring of 2010, and had it for at least four years before that. They just abruptly stopped it, and I was asking them about when they were going to bring it back for the PAST FOUR YEARS and they just kept telling me a few months in the future. The first time I asked them they said that it would be a couple of months, not giving any suggestion that they were going to keep it down for years, which suggests to me that they were trying to brush it off for some reason. I kept this session of asking them about this up until last year they finally gave a year rather than a month, thus buying them a whole year to put this off further.

    At the top of this article it says “COTA has set March 2014 as the target date” and still I see no sign of it on their website. It looks like they’ve brushed it off again. Or does Columbus Underground have any idea what the URL for this information is?

  • mal7798

    Here is a message I posted on COTA’s Facebook page about this. I posted a link to this article on there as well.

    (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));
    Post by Matthew Link.

  • Mister MooCow


    I’ll renew my plea for COTA to just provide open-access to the data and let the professionals work on the presentation/integration (e.g., http://maps.google.com/help/maps/mapcontent/transit/ )

  • stephentszuter

    Can we please get this done….?! It’s infuriating to me how much business they’re losing because they haven’t been able to get this up-and-running.

  • jessicat0

    Remember that time this never happened? And almost every other city in the world – including those much richer, way poorer, more and less technologically advanced – had something even better and more advanced than this more than 5 years ago?

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