Thursday, June 16, 2011


Think about sitting at your desk or workstation completing some reports and knowing you are going to have to work an extra half hour that day. You go to the LANta website to check on your bus schedule and find that there is indeed a bus that runs one hour later than the one you usually ride home. Later as you prepare to leave the office, you check in again only this time to LANta tech tools to see exactly what time the bus is departing based on GPS calculations in real-time. You see that the bus is running about 5 minutes late.

Then, at the bus stop, using your cellular phone and the four digit number on the bus stop sign, you ‘dial in’ to hear a voice provide information on exactly when the bus is scheduled to arrive at the stop and you find that you have enough time to duck into the coffee shop near the stop to pick up a latte.

That’s the kind of convenient access to schedule information that LANta has been building into its system over the past year and a half. Most of the infrastructure is in and has been operating for some time now. Bus stop signs with individual bus stop numbers are going to be installed starting this summer and the hope is, weather permitting, to finish that project by the end of the calendar year. The four digit bus stop number, when dialed at the end of a set telephone access number, will generate the GPS authenticated information about the bus operating to and from that bus stop.

Five years ago, this kind of information access was almost unimaginable. And, where it was being experimented with, it was incredibly costly. It still isn’t cheap. The new LANta system, supplied by Avail Technologies Inc of State College, PA, cost a tad under $2 million dollars. And this system, while on the Authority’s master capital plan, was not funded until the federal ‘Stimulus’ program came along. Opportunity knocked, and LANta answered and moved the project along swiftly to meet the federal requirements for a quick turnaround.

While expensive, the investment will pay back over time in time saved in monitoring the system, efficiencies that can be implemented in response to the extensive management information gathered and through insurance and other savings that accrue due to safety enhancements and accident control.

Those ultimately reaping the greatest benefit will be LANta passengers who gain the comfort of knowing exactly when buses operate at all times of the service day. Imagine how convenient such a system will be to use . . .