Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

More Real Time Bus Data Available

Five more routes now let riders know exactly when the bus will come.

By - Jun 16th, 2014 01:09 pm
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Good news arrived today for Milwaukee bus riders. The Milwaukee County Transit System has published real-time data on five more routes, including one of the longest (route 80) and one of the busiest (route 30). Real-time data allows riders to know the arrival time of buses via a website, text message, or phone system. The system gives riders up-to-the-minute information on when a bus will arrive at a given stop.

This follows a long-anticipated announcement at the end of April that real-time data was available on Route 21, which traverses the county on North Ave. The routes that now have real-time data are 21 (North Ave.), 22 (Center St.), 28 (108th St.), 30 (Sherman-Wisconsin), 31 (State-Highland) and 80 (6th Street). The next routes to have real-time data published will be the remaining routes from the Fond du Lac Ave facility, including 10 (Brookfield Square – Bayshore Town Center), 23 (Fond du Lac Ave.) and the MetroEXpress BlueLine.

Note the stop number 1231

Note the stop number 1231.

As we’ve covered in the past, the data has been a long time in coming. First referenced in late 2010, implementation required a lengthy procurement process that included hardware upgrades to the communications system on each bus. The real-time data also works in conjunction with a new annunciator system on the buses that states the upcoming stop and transfer points. Both are a welcome upgrade over the former Transit TV system (which broadcast ads as well as announcing stops) and paper schedules.

Most customers will likely interact with the real-time data through the website with a desktop, laptop or mobile device. Whether by bookmarking the pages for their most-used stops, or by looking at the constantly updating map of bus locations, riders will be able to spend less time waiting for the bus.

Customers will also be able to receive estimated arrival times by a texting MCTS [BUS STOP NUMBER] to 41411 or by calling the information line at 414-344-6711. Each bus stop is now equipped with a unique number, just above the route numbers. Riders can also sign-up to receive automated notifications everyday.

Here’s hoping the pace at which the real-time information is rolled out gets faster and faster. For more background on the system and ways to access it, see our article from April.

Categories: Eyes on Milwaukee

2 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: More Real Time Bus Data Available”

  1. Gary Rebholz says:

    Whew! I’m glad the test period is over.
    Regular riders like me will remember winter/spring 2013 when we were treated to wild roller-coaster rides as bus drivers pulled away from stops like a bat out of hell (no extra charge!).
    On one particular ride on a wet Wednesday afternoon I was thrown to the floor of a #30 eastbound bus after climbing through a crowd of millennials standing clustered at the front. Yes it hurt, but I wasn’t injured to the surprise of fellow adult passengers. I reported the incident to a training supervisor several weeks later.
    Just last week I was almost run over by a west-bound #30 bus who preferred to roll through a stop sign at Ogden and Jackson so he could keep to his schedule. I was lugging groceries across the street at at that busy intersection.

    But one other comment provoked by your information: “the former Transit TV system (which broadcast ads as well as announcing stops)”
    What city transit system are you talking about? The transit TV system had not been used on Milwaukee bus lines FOR YEARS. I stopped riding the bus when it was implemented because at the time they were playing music — there was no helpful commuter information as I remember it: no announced stops, weather, news.

    I felt compelled to respond to your posting knowing that very few of the usual suspects will have current knowledge or history of Milwaukee Mass Transit beyond reading about funding issues.
    I’ve used Milwaukee mass transit since the late 1970s and spent 10 years riding and enjoying Chicago’s system – in both cases while leaving my compact car parked at home.

  2. @Gary – I’m aware it hasn’t been on buses for years, that’s why I said it was the former system. Real-time bus data was announced in late 2010, Transit TV ended in 2009.

    The end of Transit TV required a new stop-announcement system, as Transit TV served that function before. In mid 2010, MCTS expected to have the new system online by late 2011, it obviously is taking until mid-2014.

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