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Big Blue Bus Rolls Out NextBus Real-Time Arrival Information
July 08, 2015

Riding the bus just got a lot easier in Santa Monica, California. Big Blue Bus, which operates 200 transit vehicles around Santa Monica and the Westside region of Los Angeles, has completed its rollout of real-time passenger information to the public.


Last month, the agency opened its General Transit Feed Specification realtime (GTFS-realtime) data at the City’s Hack the Beach event. Big Blue Bus became only the second agency in the state (following BART in the Bay Area), and the first in Southern California, to openly publish information in GTFS-realtime, signaling the agency’s commitment to open data and innovation.

Now, Big Blue Bus has launched a mobile application, NextBus real-time information so that transit riders can access the specific location of their bus and predicted arrival time at their stop.  Without this information, during non-business hours, customers have no way of knowing if their bus is on schedule or not, due to traffic, weather, construction, or other reasons beyond Big Blue Bus’ control.

Thanks to Big Blue Bus’ GTFS-realtime feeds, Google Maps can now publicly display Live Transit Updates as well as service alerts. Third-party application developers have the ability to use these feeds to create their own apps, and apps such as City Mapper, Transit and Moovit are already using BBB’s live feed.

The agency began building its GTFS-realtime feed in order to supply information to NextBus. NextBus improves upon what appears in Google Maps because it provides bus arrival predictions based off of GPS information and historical travel time data.

For customers without smartphones, arrival information can also be accessed by using the texting service or by calling, provided customers know their bus stop’s four-digit number. The agency will begin rolling out signs with bus stop IDs throughout the system this summer.

By text:  Customers can text “SMBBB” followed by a space and by the stop number to 41411 to get real-time arrival predictions via a reply text message.

By phone: Customers can call 310-451-5444 at any time of the day or night and enter their stop number to receive up-to-the-minute arrival predictions.

 NextBus also has apps available for Android and iOS smartphones.

 With the NextBus rollout, Santa Monica riders now have access to the same arrival information system used by other major operators in Southern California, including Los Angeles Metro and UCLA, for a more seamless transit experience across the Southland. “We’re delighted to be working with Big Blue Bus to make transit easier for riders, and to bring tools to managers to help them serve their customers,” said Lillian Chan, general manager of NextBus.

BBB’s Transit Director, Ed King, adds, “Real-time trip planning has been one of our top customer requests, so improving customer experience for riding our system is a primary objective. With NextBus real-time arrival information available, riders have the convenience of knowing when their bus will arrive, so they can spend less time waiting and more time on other activities. Having real-time arrival information available will reduce anxiety and uncertainty associated with using the bus.  The operations planning tools that the NextBus system provides are a significant bonus, and will contribute to a winning combination of better service and additional feedback to further increase transit ridership and quality of life in our region.”

About Big Blue Bus

Big Blue Bus operates a fleet of 200 vehicles transporting more than 61,000 passengers daily across a 51-square mile service area. Nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to a cleaner environment, the entire fleet operates on alternative fuels, including liquefied and compressed natural gas (LNG/CNG), which helps to cut emissions by over 80 percent. Serving Santa Monica and the Los Angeles area since 1928, Big Blue Bus has won numerous awards for its customer service, safety and efficiency.

About NextBus, Inc.

As a leader in real-time passenger information, NextBus provides arrival predictions to over 160 transit operators worldwide, including five of the top ten largest transit agencies in North America. With NextBus, passengers can access arrival information for their transit vehicles and stops in a number of ways—through NextBus smartphone apps, third-party apps, desktop browsers, SMS/text messaging, phones, and signs. With the NextBus system, managers of transit also have access to a suite of tools to help them optimize their systems, including live vehicle monitoring, replay maps, and customized reports.

NextBus, Inc. is a subsidiary of Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS), a business of Cubic Corporation (NYSE: CUB). CTS is a leading integrator of information technology and services for intelligent travel solutions around the world.