PARTA makes route alterations, prepares for real-time tracking function; Kent Wired; August 30, 2016
By Benjamin VanHoose, Kent Wired, August 30, 2016
New PARTA bus routes from KentWired.com on Vimeo.
Riding the bus to class just got a lot easier—or at least that’s what PARTA is hoping for.
The public transportation service, free to Kent State students with FlashCards, is implementing several new measures to streamline how riders use PARTA, including informative bus stop signage and a GPS tracking function.
“We’re looking to simplify the systems,” said Katherine Manning, director of planning at PARTA. “We wanted to greatly improve how students use (PARTA).”
To reduce confusion, routes were given new numbers that are also listed on the redesigned bus stop signs that the corresponding bus will eventually pass. Some routes were merged, while others were cancelled altogether.
The downtown Kent bus, Route 56, received the axe due to low ridership.
“For a number of reasons, (the Downtowner) was just not being used,” Manning said. “We looked to be able to utilize our resources in better ways.”
A major factor that could potentially change how students use the local bus system is a real-time transit tracker.
This tool, called SPOT PARTA, allows anyone to text an individual bus stop code to find out where exactly a bus is at any given time and when it is estimated to show up.
“The biggest fear for most of using public transit is not knowing when the next bus will arrive,” Manning said. “This allows students to better plan their usage of PARTA.”
Matthew Pavlantos, a sophomore international relations major, relies on the busses daily to get to class.
“When I have to wait at the bus stop, it’s a little bit aggravating to not know where the bus is,” he said. “I think it’ll be good to know if a bus is running late or early.”
SPOT comes as an answer to many students who long for a PARTA smartphone application to track bus progress. Manning said the mobile site basically functions as an app, allowing you to type the stop code and find updated information while avoiding potential text messaging fees.
“I think the texting will be very helpful for a lot of people,” said Briana DeLong, a sophomore early childhood education major. “I would use it to see if I’m better off walking or if I should ride the bus.”
PARTA is currently doing some more installations and testing, Manning said, but SPOT is projected to be fully available sometime in October.
Akron METRO, the public bus service used by University of Akron students, is also rolling out a nearly identical tracking feature soon.
“(PARTA) is doing a good job,” Pavlantos said. “I’m glad they’re working to make it easier to use the bus.”
Benjamin VanHoose is an assigning editor for the Kent Stater. Contact him at email@example.com.
The video package was produced by Marissa Nichol. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.