Monday, May 24, 2010


The answer to the Lehigh Valley’s trivia question, How many bus stops are there in the LANTA Metro bus system? Is ........ 2,694!

We know for sure because we had a team out in the field for about 6 weeks visiting every one of them. And it was not just a count that we were trying to obtain: For Google Transit and for the new Automated Transportation Management System (ATMS) being implemented this Fall, we need precise geo code information for each and every stop. We needed a latitude and a longitude that could interact with satellite systems hovering over the planet and software and transponders in vehicles that could locate them exactly on the streets
and highways of the Valley.

Owen O’Neil, LANTA’s Director of Planning observes that “It was to us a monumental task when we started out back in March. After all, we were going to be physically visiting over 2500 locations from one end of the two Counties to the other! We thought we could complete it in 6 weeks but we really had no idea … it could have taken far more time than it did.”

A team of four, hired part-time for this specific assignment, used hand-held digital devices to record geo codes while standing at stops along with a small set of other relevant information about the location.

“We figured as long as we were out there and visiting each stop, we would gather other data.” notes O’Neil, “It was important to build a bus stop inventory for future improvements and maintenance purposes so we know exactly where there are signs, benches, shelters and where there are none.”

The inventory will help establish a work plan for installing new bus stop signs and additional passenger amenities in the coming months and years.

The field team also evaluated whether or not the stop was accessible according to guidelines set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In addition to creating an inventory, the data will be used in the ATMS system to provide passengers with real-time information about bus arrivals and departures at stops.

“Using a cellular phone or a PDA, customers will no longer have to wonder when the next bus is coming,” notes O’Neil, “They can access that via the internet.”

Bus schedule times will also be listed at signs at Metro’s major transfer hubs: the Allentown Transportation Center, Bethlehem Broad and Guetter, the Lehigh Valley Mall and eventually, the Easton Intermodal Transportation Center.

When completed, public transit will truly have entered the 21st century in the Lehigh Valley.

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