Long waits at bus stops in the hot sun, rain or blowing snow will be a thing of the past in Red Deer by the end of the year.
Cameras and new technology aboard Red Deer Transit will soon be boosting the security and convenience of riding city buses.
Six buses are being equipped with stop announcement technology, passenger counting equipment and cameras to test the new systems for two weeks before they are installed on all 62 buses in the fleet starting this fall.
“They’re working on the installation and the calibration right now so those buses should be out in service towards the end of this week I’m expecting, if not sooner,” said Steve Parkin, transit superintendent on Monday.
Test buses equipped with the new technology will display a notice on board so riders are aware and the buses will be rotated through all routes, including BOLT and Red Deer County routes.
Parkin said as part of the new technology passengers will be able to access a website to find out exactly when their bus will arrive, instead of just relying on the published schedule.
“You’ll actually be able to see it through real time. If it’s a cold winter day and your bus stop is block from your house, you know how long it will take to get there.”
The website won’t be operational during the test period, but will be available by the end of the year, he said.
For the first time ever cameras will be also installed on the exterior and interior of Red Deer Transit buses.
“It protects customers. It protects the City of Red Deer as well in the event of an accident. There are three cameras that view the exterior and there are some interior cameras as well for the passenger area.”
Riders will be able to both hear stop announcements through an automated system and see stop alerts on an interior sign with the new technology.
Parkin said the technology upgrades coming to Red Deer are standard across the transit industry. Prior to this, the last technological change installed on city buses was in 2015 when the old mechanical fare drop boxes were replaced with electronic fare boxes that records when people board the bus.
“With the new technology it will be able to count people de-boarding so will give them a better idea of trip patterns.”
Funding for the upgrades came from the federal and provincial governments.