Action Bus improvements expected

Booking a ride for a same-day trip on Red Deer Transit Action Bus may be possible in the coming months.

Booking a ride for a same-day trip on Red Deer Transit Action Bus may be possible in the coming months.

Members of the Freebirds advocacy group heard about the city’s plans to install mobile data terminals on the city’s 24 action buses at an information session on Tuesday.

The $650,000 project was given the green light as part of the 2014 capital budget.

George Penny, the city’s transit manager, said the hope is that the devices will increase same-day trips and reduce the duplication of buses sent to one location. The mobile terminals will be linked to the city’s main switchboard.

Penny said the devices will allow the dispatch centre to immediately pinpoint available buses for pickups when there are cancellations.

The terminals are expected to be installed as early as November.

Bev Randers, a Hub staffer, said one of the major concerns of Action Bus riders is the booking process when two people in the same home order a bus to the same destination. The Hub helps adults with developmental disabilities.

Randers said they are forced to make two phone calls. In some cases, two buses could arrive to the same house.

Penny hopes they may be able to increase the service on evenings and weekends with the new mobile terminals. He said the terminals will let them determine ridership numbers, allowing them to potentially modify the system by either adding more service or streamlining service to different routes.

Jim Hutcheson, a Freebird member, said it will be hit or miss if the new devices will help improve service.

Hutcheson said it was frustrating because he felt their concerns of easier booking and evening and weekend travel will not be addressed immediately.

Randers said they are looking forward to the new service.

She felt transit staffers were on top of the concerns but have budget commitments. She said the meeting attendees felt the drivers go above and beyond every day.

Randers said it is important that people who cannot make a ride cancel the service to reduce the number of no-shows. Randers said there will be increased demand in the future because of more Michener residents living in the community.