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Where’s my bus?

New FRTA phone app will help you find out; text alerts coming

Franklin Regional Transit Authority Assistant Administrator Michael Perreault displays one of the bus stop signs that will be posted at the Greenfield Community College stop, telling passengers how to get text messages about bus service at the community college. 
(Recorder/Diane Broncaccio)

Franklin Regional Transit Authority Assistant Administrator Michael Perreault displays one of the bus stop signs that will be posted at the Greenfield Community College stop, telling passengers how to get text messages about bus service at the community college. (Recorder/Diane Broncaccio)

GREENFIELD — If you need to find out when the next FRTA bus will be coming to a stop near you, the answer could be on your cell phone.

Franklin Regional Transit Authority bus routes are now available from a free, smart-phone app called “RouteShout,” which helps users find the nearest bus stop and tells them when the next bus will be coming.

FRTA is also developing a phone-texting service that can tell you when the bus will arrive.

FRTA started its RouteMatch software in December, after working with the company for at least a year. The buses now have GPS tracking devices, which give updates of each bus’s position every 10 seconds. This enables the app to give precise, “real time” information about where the bus is and when it will come.

The transit authority is also getting ready to install new signs at its bus stops about the new texting service.

Here’s how the smartphone app works: Once you have downloaded the app from your regular app store, you select “Franklin Regional Transit Authority” and the bus route you need. Tap “locate me” to enter the departing address and you will get a list of the bus stops closest to you. Then select the bus stop you want and you’ll find out how many minutes before the next bus comes. Click on “route details” to make sure the bus is going in the direction you want.

When the texting service is online, you’ll be able to send the FRTA a text message, using a code that will be posted on a sign at your bus stop. You will send that code to a separate FRTA texting number. Seconds later, you’ll know when the bus is coming.

“For our passengers, the number one phone call is: ‘When is the bus? Did I miss it?’” says Michael Perreault, assistant administrator at FRTA.

The features will be useful to those who need to know about their bus service before or after the FRTA office is closed. The office phones aren’t answered before 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m. — even though the buses run until 7 p.m.

Administrator Tina M. Cote said she’s heard from people who have used the app in bad weather — when they didn’t want to drive — and found it very handy. Some drivers park their cars near a bus stop and take the bus to work.

“This also saves people from using our paper schedules,” she said. “This way, it’s always at your fingertips.”

The system is better than the paper schedule because it adjusts arrival times if the next bus has been delayed.

Perreault says that RouteShout projects bus arrivals up to 120 minutes from current times. At this point, about 100 people are using the app.

More information is available online, at:

www.frta.org

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at: dbroncaccio@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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