SANTA MONICA—The City of Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus is upgrading communications and GPS technology to provide “more reliable and efficient” rides, according to an announcement by the bus service made on July 12.
By 2024, a new communication system on all Big Blue Buses will allow dispatchers to track buses and communicate with operators through voice and text messages should any disruptions occur en route.
GPS location data on Big Blue Buses will also be updated to reflect more accurate bus arrival times on electronic bus stop signs and in apps like Transit and Google Maps. GPS location data updates every 45 seconds with the current technology, but with the upgrades it will update every 10 seconds.
Monitors on Big Blue Buses will also reflect more accurate information regarding upcoming stops and arrival times as well as destination, detours, and weather information.
In the meantime, riders can expect incorrect or missing display information on buses and signage while the upgrades continue to roll out.
On July 13, a pilot of the new upgrades was employed through a small fleet of buses equipped with the new communications system as part of a four-week testing period. These buses will provide service on Routes 3, 7, 8, 9 & 41, and Rapids 7 & 12.
According to Big Blue Bus, while testing is being conducted, riders may experience:
- onboard audio announcements that are mistimed or include incorrect and/or mispronounced bus stops and destinations
- Incorrect route or destination information displayed on electronic bus signs
- Missing or inaccurate real-time bus arrival predictions for select stops
Questions or comments about the communications system upgrade can be directed to the City of Santa Monica at santamonica.gov/311.
By Paige Strickland