OneBusAway – PSTA

If you visited Hillsborough Area Regional Transit’s OneBusAway desktop website (http://tampa.onebusaway.org/enterprise/) this morning, you may have noticed something different.

PSTA's Route 59 on the HART OneBusAway desktop website.
PSTA’s Route 59 on the HART OneBusAway desktop website.

No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority bus routes were indeed showing up on HART’s OBA interface, rather than HART’s own routes (though HART Routes 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 16, 30, 31, 33, 34, 36, 37, 39, 41, 45, 46, 57, 96, and 400-MetroRapid were all showing as they normally would, as well as some HART express routes). If you were using the mobile app for OBA, the situation was a lot less confusing, as both HART and PSTA routes showed up on the interface.

Now, while I can only guess that today’s occurrence was a test run of sorts, HART and PSTA have been working together for the past several months to bring OBA functionality over to Pinellas County, as part of a broader regional connectivity plan that will soon usher in the first stages of a regional smart card-based fare structure. So therefore, I also see today’s occurrence to be the next stage in preparations for the official launch of OBA in Pinellas, which is currently slated to happen sometime later this year.

Don't worry, PSTA's current "Real Time" interface, powered by Clever Devices, is not going away.
Don’t worry, PSTA’s current “Real Time” interface, powered by Clever Devices, is not going away.

For those wondering about PSTA’s current “Real Time” bus tracking system that is powered through Clever Devices, that system is here to stay. Instead, OBA will become an additional convenience for PSTA customers – especially those who utilize smartphones. Those of us who have utilized the Clever Devices interface know that if you’re using a smartphone, the only effective avenue to track buses in real time is the mobile “text-only” site.

With the preparations continuing for PSTA to join the OBA realm – which already includes the New York City MTA, Sound Transit, and Atlanta’s MARTA, in addition to HART – expect to see more great things from both agencies as we head towards the summer months. My only question now is, will the official launch of OBA (Pinellas) happen sooner than some of us think it will? Only time will tell on that I guess…


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Legalese | Disclosures

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HART makes strides to create a better commute

If you haven’t rode in a HART bus lately, then you’ll notice some significant changes.

  • First off, you’ll notice that all the busses are equipped with audio and video surveillence. In this way, your overall safety on the bus has been increased (and those misbehaving people won’t be able to get away with their crimes on board a bus anymore). PSTA and other transit agencies have had surveillence systems on their busses for quite some time now and HART quickly followed suit.
  • Secondly, all busses will be equipped over the next year with GPS systems. You may have read articles in the newspaper regarding the addition of GPS to HART busses. But you may have wondered “when is it going to happen?”. All the busses I rode on today were equipped with the GPS interfaces, but the system won’t be fully functional until the end of the year, one bus driver told me. Eventually, the addition of the GPS system onboard all busses will lead to display signs at transfer centers and other bus stops, indicating the next departure and whether or not the bus is on time.
  • Third, you will notice that in the center of the photo, the illuminated sign that lights up when a patron requests a stop has been replaced by the “Next Stop” scrolling display by Luminator These signs currently only display the current time and date, and flash “STOP REQUESTED” when a patron requests a stop. However, once the GPS and other integrated systems are fully functional, these signs will display major intersections, landmarks, and transfer centers.
  • Finally, as part of this system upgrade, you will notice that the “Integrated Voice System” by Luminator is partly functional. When a patron requests a stop and the “Next Stop” display has flashed “STOP REQUESTED”, an automated voice will say “STOP REQUESTED” in both English and Spanish. Once the voice systems are in place and fully functional, the system will announce major intersections, landmarks, and transfer centers…allowing the bus drivers to better focus on the road when driving.