|Courtesy of San Francisco Chronicle.|
In a partnership with Cisco Systems, today Muni started its pilot schedule run of the new Connected Bus. Muni’s antiquated technology is sometimes quaint, and at other times downright frustrating or embarrassing — but that technology is about to get a booster shot of the future. The new Connected Buses feature a wireless connection, but even better, they include displays with real-time updates, displaying the position of the bus relative to the rest of the system — in other words, information about transfer points. That’s right, folks: interactive wayfinding, especially useful because although most Muni lines offer many transfer opportunities, very few operators actually make an effort to announce them. Data about the vehicle and its trips — fares, passenger counts, and mileage — are transmitted to a system that will hopefully help to streamline bus maintenance. In the future, the MTA plans to use the new buses in connection with giving buses priority at traffic signals, which is an important component of decreasing travel times.
Okay. Admittedly, Muni has no shortage of things to work out — very basic operational issues, like making sure it can actually provide the advertised level of service in a reasonably reliable and punctual manner. And yet, one thing is clear: if we intend to attract more choice riders and bring them into the transit fold, we will need to do more than just run the buses on time. Combined with reliable service, a more comfortable ride with extra amenities will help to achieve the underlying goal of increasing ridership. This latest effort is encouraging, in that it demonstrates that Muni is beginning to realize that its riders are actually customers, and that everyone who does not ride Muni is a potential customer.
Connected Buses will run on weekdays through April 8, approximately 6:40 am – 11:00 am and 2:00 pm – 6:40 pm. The lucky routes are: 1, 1AX, 1BX, 2, 10, 12, 18, 23, 26, 28, 29, 43, 47, 48, 52, and 71. Check out the full schedule here.