Real-time bus status arrives for SamTrans 

Riding the bus is stressful enough without having to wonder when it’s going to arrive.

That’s why SamTrans, hoping to increase ridership and ease commuter stress, has installed digital displays offering timely departure information at major transit centers.

As of last month, San Mateo County’s bus agency had installed 36 digital real-time signs at BART stations in Daly City, Colma and Millbrae, and at Redwood City’s Sequoia station, SamTrans spokeswoman Christine Dunn said.

“There have been a few studies that show even if people know the schedule, they’re still anxious waiting for the bus,” Dunn said. “People are more likely to ride when they know exactly when their bus arrives.”

Bus riders also agree that the digital system is helpful.  

“It’s more convenient than looking at schedules posted on the wall,” said 17-year-old Westmoor High School student Weisley Wong, who frequents the bus stops at the Colma BART station. “Sometimes, I might look at the wrong [paper schedule].”

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission awarded SamTrans $1.3 million to install the electronic scrolls. Future signs at Palo Alto’s Transit Center and at Daly City’s Top of the Hill location are expected to debut next year, Dunn said. The MTC funding comes from Regional Measure 2, passed in 2004, which increased bridge tolls by $1 on the seven Bay Area state-owned bridges.

SamTrans’ signs, which resemble Muni’s real-time displays in San Francisco, will show the route number and a bus’s final destination and scheduled departure time.  

The signs will read “due” just before buses depart and “no bus service” when a bus isn’t scheduled to depart within the hour.

Though the signs are new, the buses’ dispatching center has been using a GPS system to keep track of the routes.

“That’s a huge improvement that has allowed us to make improvements in our schedule,” Dunn said, adding that the agency has an 85 percent on-time rate.

Information center

Number of SamTrans signs:

Daly City BART, 5

Colma BART, 12

Millbrae BART, 13

Redwood City, 6

Cost: $1.3 million

SamTrans on-time performance: 85 percent


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