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’
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
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
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
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.