We've waited a good long while for iBus, the STM's bus tracking app, with some of us (me) losing faith the new piece of public transit tech would ever be launched.
Well, the wait (and the wait in front of stops for buses that never arrive) is nearly over, as the STM is gearing up to officially launch in 2016.
As of now, over 70% of the STM's bus fleet have already been equipped with GPS locators, according to the Gazette. Crucial to the functioning of the iBus system, these devices will allow the public transit company to locate buses in real-time, and pass the info on to you.
But there's a lot more going into iBus than just the whereabouts of buses (though that's a pretty big win) and the STM held an info session yesterday to showcase the many features and changes we'll experience when riding the city's bus and metro network next year. Based on tweets, prior info, and the Gazette's preview, here's what we learned:
iBus will allow STM riders to know exactly where a bus is through their smartphone.
Yeah, you already knew that, but still, the usefulness and importance bears repeating.
You will know when the bus is going to arrive
An application of the above feature, this will ensure you aren't stuck waiting at a stop for far too long without knowing when the bus is ever going to come.
Traffic will be factored into bus arrivals
If the streets are congested and the bus is going to be a bit late, you'll know.
Visual and aural announcement will be made to tell riders which stops are coming up next.
Already seen on two STM bus routes, electronic signs and an automated announcer will be telling your eyes and ears what stop is next.
A new operation centre will be set up to ensure the entire iBus system is running smoothly.
To be staffed by 35 STM employees, the operation centre will connect drivers and dispatchers while keeping tabs on all relevant bus-related info. A second operation centre is also being planned, as a backup for the original. Here's a photo for a visual.
The number of passengers on a given bus will be tracked.
Which should allow dispatchers to send out another on the route if things are getting a bit too stuffy.
Buses equipped with wheelchair access ramps will be showcased on the iBus map
This will be achieved through the use a specific pictogram.
Bus drivers will be able to know (and go) where they're needed.
With a better line of communication between dispatchers and drivers, the latter will know if stops need to be made or not, e.g. when an empty bus is close behind them on the same route.
Electronic signs inside buses will tell riders about relevant public transit alerts.
Such as when the metro stops running.
Metro stations will have electronic signs telling you when the next bus is coming.
64 are set to be installed, but not 'til summer 2016.
Only "high-frequency bus stops" will have electronic signs that will give you bus-info and arrival times.
Unfortunately, that's not that many given there are 8,000 bus stops in Montreal. The STM is looking to add another 75 bus shelters into the mix, but nothing is confirmed.
You'll be able to get all this info on other apps too.
Serious kudos goes to the STM for sharing all this data with third-party apps like Transit, which many Montrealers already use to when traveling by bus/metro.