Christchurch gains real time information for bus network

Published 28/10/2021

As part of the real time information project, the Metro Journey Planner, Next Bus and Network Map online tools (now called Metro Go) have been updated to incorporate the new satellite-fed data. You'll notice a change to the way these look. Check out Metro Go here.

The final phase of the real time information project has been completed at the Bus Interchange. You will notice some design changes to the way our screens display information.

As you notice changes occurring, feel free to email metro@ecan.govt.nz or call 03 366 88 55 with feedback, suggestions or questions.

Real time information - what and when?

The introduction of real time information provides Metro customers new technology using cellular based satellite-fed data. Customers will enjoy accurate, real-time arrival information, with data and technology that can integrate with other systems and evolve over time as the Metro network grows, and technology advances.

It replaces the current, radio-based system which has suffered from black spots in many areas, where the radio-frequency data could not be relied upon.

This upgrade means that bus arrival times will be more accurate, and customers will enjoy accurate and advanced journey planning tools with the now completed upgrades to Journey Planner, Next Bus and the Network Map.  

The current system and infrastructure are unable to support the new technology, so significant upgrades are required at the Bus Interchange, on buses and at bus stops around the city.

What’s been done so far?

We have taken a staged approach to delivering this project. This allows progressive testing of each component of the project and minimises disruption to the public.

Installation of new devices on our bus fleet, on-street bus locators, and Metro Go (Journey Planner, Next Bus and Network Map) have all been upgraded.

The final component has also been completed at the Bus Interchange, with upgrades to allow the new system to automate door openings and bus bay allocation when buses stop at the Interchange. You will notice slight changes to the way the Interchange screens display information, as well as a change to the voice within the Interchange.

The full real time information system is now switched on and operating, bringing with it accurate, reliable, and advanced technology.

Send us your feedback. We are interested to know that the system is working or if there are any issues. You are our eyes and ears on the ground. Contact us by email metro@ecan.govt.nz or call 03 366 88 55.

Project timeline:

  • April 2021: Christchurch City Council began the removal of end-of-life bus finders at bus stops around the city. These were replaced with 100 new bus locators, with improved features that integrate with the new technology, increasing the accuracy of bus arrival times at each stop.
  • July 2021: The new cellular based satellite-fed data started flowing from the buses throughout the network. The new system tracks the buses and ferry with a high level of accuracy via the cellular network. In simple terms, this meant buses now ‘ping’ cell towers much like mobile phones do, allowing us to see their location.
  • August 2021: The new bus locators and electronic signs at bus stops across the city went live. Customers were able to provide feedback and we monitored the system’s performance to make adjustments.
  • September 2021: The new bus locators entered learning mode, with ETAs becoming more accurate as more data gets gathered by the system. The system uses a combination of accurate data and machine learning – it tracks the location of a bus and estimates how long it will take to get to a particular stop. It bases those estimates on distance, speed, and traffic patterns (which change, depending on what day and time it is). It sharpens these estimates over time, based on what it has seen before. We expect the system to be operating at its best by the end of the year.
  • During September and October, occasionally Orbiter route buses yet to be fitted with an on-bus device will not trigger a countdown; signs will display the scheduled arrival time from the timetable instead. This is because we are trialing the first of our new electric buses on the Orbiter. This will be completely resolved when the entire system upgrade is complete in mid-October.
  • 11 October 2021: Journey Planner, Next Bus and Network Map were updated to incorporate the satellite-fed data. Metro Go is now available for customers to use. You'll notice a change to the way it looks.
  • 17 October 2021: The final phase of the project was completed, with upgrades at the Bus Interchange. These upgrades allow the new system to automate door openings and bus bay allocation when buses stop at the Interchange. You will notice slight changes to the way the Interchange screens display information, as well as a change to the voice within the Interchange.

Top tips for using the new tech 

Bus stop signs

The overhead signs at busy bus stops show three routes at a time, see image below. The screen will refresh every 10–15 seconds and roll to the next page showing another three bus routes.

Bus locators

The screens on the bus locators installed on bus shelters may take a few seconds to respond after a button is pushed; it is coming out of ‘sleep mode’. Under "next bus" and "timetables" buttons, there may be a several pages of information, and this is shown as a count at the bottom of the screen. Push the button again to see the next page. The third button shows any active alerts for the bus system. The fourth button, text to talk, will read out the arrival times from the next bus screen.

 

Metro Go (journey tools) - adding a shortcut to your home screen

Android

  1. Open the ‘Chrome’ app.
  2. Go to https://go.metroinfo.co.nz/
  3. Tap the menu icon (3 dots in the upper right-hand corner) and tap ‘Add to Home Screen’.
  4. Enter ‘Metro Go’ for the shortcut name and tap ‘Add’.

Tip for some Android users

To lock/unlock your home screen layout:

  1. Long press (3 seconds) an empty part of the home screen.
  2. Tap ‘Home screen settings’.
  3. Toggle ‘Lock Home Screen Layout’ on/off.

iPad or iPhone

  1. Open the ‘Safari’ app.
  2. Go to https://go.metroinfo.co.nz/
  3. Tap the icon of an arrow coming out of a box and tap ‘Add to Home Screen’.
  4. Enter ‘Metro Go’ for the shortcut name and tap ‘Add’.

Adding 'Favourite' locations

If you have a regular origin or destination that you will be frequently searching in the journey planner tool, it is a great time-saving trick to add these locations as Favourites. 

To set a Favourite:

  1. Click on a location on the map. A little pop-up box comes up which has a Star icon on the top left corner (see screenshot)
  2. Click the Star to add this location to Favourites.
  3. There is the option for you to set a custom name for the location for  your own quick reference e.g. Home, Work, Gym etc.
  4. Click ‘Add to favourites’
  5. Once the location has been added to the Favourites, it will allow for quicker journey searches.
  6. When planning your trip using the 'Plan Your Bus Trip' tab, you can enter the name of your pre-saved Favourite in either the origin or destination field. When planning your trip using the 'Next Bus' tab, toggle to the Favourites section and select your pre-saved Favourite from the list. As an extra time-saving tip on your mobile device, use the instructions above to create a shortcut on the homescreen of your device so you can view the Next Bus page for your Favourite location in a single tap.

It's important to note with this that Favourites are specific to each device. If you save a favourite on your desktop then open up Metro Go on your mobile, your favourite won’t be saved on that device. Favourites will need to be set up for each device in use. Something to keep in mind.

Mobile apps

There are several third-party apps in existence (mobile apps that use Metro’s data), but no mobile apps are owned or managed by Metro. 

A Metro-owned mobile app was originally considered for the real time information project and is currently on hold.

The current Metro Go tool provides a similar level of functionality that a mobile app would and key existing mobile apps are linked with Metro’s new real time information data. A Metro mobile app is at this stage not identified as something that would provide any additional benefit to our customers, but we will continue to monitor this.

There are future opportunities for a Metro app but in the meantime, we’re really open to feedback and welcome any suggestions on how we might be able to improve the current mobile experience.

Mobile apps you may use

Since the move to our new real time information system, the data feed has changed and requires all mobile apps to update their data feeds. If the mobile app you use to plan your bus journey is no longer working, we suspect the developer of that app has not updated it recently.

Unfortunately, we have no control over these third-party mobile apps, or the ability to get them updated with the new data feed. 

Christchurch Metro app

The Christchurch Metro app was created by a bus enthusiast a while back. We have contacted the developer who has indicated they will not be updating the mobile app. It now appears to have been removed from the Google Play store.

Christchurch Transit

Christchurch Transit appears to be no longer supported.

Moovit

We are seeking confirmation from Moovit that they’re all up to date with the new data feed.

Google, Apple & Transit

Transit, Google, and Apple have started consuming our new data feeds for their mobile applications. This means they should continue to work with the new real time information data. You may need to update or refresh your mobile app or saved page if there appears to be any issues.

If the issues continue after updating, we recommend you contact the developer and ask them to update their feed. You may be able to track this down via the app store.

MyWay by Metro app

The MyWay by Metro app will work as normal. However, the Timaru Link will no longer display as an option in the app. This is because it was not being used enough by our customers to justify the cost of the migration to the new data service.

If customers would like help planning their journey on the Timaru Link, they can view the timetable information on the website or contact the Timaru Metroinfo team on 03 688 5544.

What are your thoughts?

As customers notice changes occurring, we value your feedback. Feel free to email metro@ecan.govt.nz or call 03 366 88 55 with feedback, suggestions or questions.

Information for API developers

Developer resources and information available here.

Page first published 16 April 2021

Last updated 28 October 2021