Christchurch gains real time information for bus network

Published 21/07/2021

 

1, 2, 3…testing: You may be getting glimpses of our new real time information system at your bus stop. Be aware – the information displayed on electronic signs will vary, as our team is out testing them. See the latest update on bus locators below.

The introduction of real time information will provide Metro customers new technology using cellular based satellite-fed data. This means that bus arrival times will be exact rather than estimated, and customers will enjoy accurate and advanced journey planning tools, including a new Metro mobile application.

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.

Christchurch City Council and Environment Canterbury have collaborated to develop this solution that meets Christchurch’s current public transport requirements and can evolve to meet customer needs in the future.

What and when?

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.

Cellular based satellite-fed data now onstream

Update 9 July: Behind the scenes, the new cellular based satellite-fed data has started flowing. The new system is tracking our vehicles with a high level of accuracy via the cellular network. In simple terms, this means buses are ‘pinging’ cell towers much like mobile phones do, allowing us to see their location. The next steps are to connect the data stream to bus locators, online tools and the interchange – these are a work in progress.

Bus locators: 1, 2, 3...testing

Update 29 July: The new system is now turned on. This is a "soft launch", as bus locators are still in test mode. The new electronic signs and bus locators are connected to the new system. They receive the ‘pings’ that buses are sending to cell towers and tell customers how far away the bus is from that particular stop.

The "next bus" button on the bus locators, see picture at top, will tell you the ETA displayed in minutes. There may be one or two buses that show a scheduled time. This is when that bus has not started the route. The real time will be triggered when that bus starts moving. The scheduled time is the default time from the timetable. 

Things to note

- the buttons on the smaller bus locators, installed on the bus shelters, may take a few seconds to respond. It is best to wait and not push the button again.

- under "next bus" and "timetables" there may be a number of pages and this is shown as a count at the bottom of the screen. To find the second or third page push the button and wait for it to respond.

- the "4th button, text to talk, will read out what is on the screen.

The largers screens mounted on a pole are at busy bus stops, see picture below. These show a maximum of three routes at a time. The screen will refresh every 10/15 seconds and roll to the next page showing another three bus routes.

 

A LIVE sign tells you how far away a bus is in minutes, like this:

 

 

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.

Thank you everyone for your patience while we get the new system up and running; the team appreciates the feedback people are sending in.

Background information 

In April, Christchurch City Council began the removal of end-of-life bus finders at bus stops around the city. These are being replaced with 100 new bus locators (pictured), with improved features that integrate with the new technology, increasing the accuracy of bus arrival times at each stop.

The new technology and functionality of the bus locators have been selected with accessibility as a key consideration, with clear visuals and audio announcements, being placed at an appropriate height for wheelchair users, and with soft-touch buttons that are much easier to operate.

Journey planner and next bus

The Metro Journey Planner and Next Bus online tools are undergoing an upgrade, incorporating the new data. Customers will notice a visual change to the way these features are displayed online, but the current functionality of the tools will be maintained, while allowing for future upgrades. These upgrades should be completed before the end of the year.  

Metro mobile application

A new, free Metro mobile app will enable customers to access the Journey Planner and Next Bus tools direct from their phone. The application should be available before the end of the year.

Bus interchange

The bus interchange will be undergoing upgrades to allow the new system to automate door openings and bus bay allocation when buses stop at the interchange. Te reo announcements at the bus interchange will also be improved. There will be planned platform closures this year, which will be communicated to customers when dates have been confirmed.

Staged approach

We are taking a staged approach to delivering the project, starting with installation of new devices on our bus fleet, on-street, online tools and finally the interchange. This allows progressive testing of the components of the solution and minimises disruption to the public.

As a result of this phased approach, the new on-street bus locator system will be the first changes implemented in July. This should improve the accuracy of the information displayed whilst minimally impact to bus users.

The interchange will operate using the old data until the final stage of upgrades, which will mean closures to some platforms are necessary. The date for these closures will be communicated to customers when dates have been confirmed.

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 Waimakariri and Selwyn

Waimakariri

Due to the increase in mobile device use and low use of the seven on-street bus finders in Waimakariri, all of them are being removed (date TBC). 

All Waimakariri bus routes will be available through the new online real time information tools, including the mobile app, and journey planning information and timetables are available by calling MetroInfo on 366 8855. 

Information about public transport in Waimakariri District can be found here.

Selwyn

Selwyn’s one bus finder will be replaced by the new technology. All Selwyn bus routes will be available through the new online real time information tools, including the mobile app.  

Information about public transport in Selwyn District can be found here. 

Timaru

Timaru has seven bus finders that are not being replaced. Due to the growing use of MyWay by Metro, the bus finders were registering extremely low use.

Information about MyWay by Metro public transport in Timaru District can be found here.

Information for API developers

Developer resources and information available here.

 

Page first published 16 April 2021