Cellphones say when bus is due

Cellphones in Auckland can now tell you when your bus is due following the launch of WAP and text message versions of the regional council's Rideline website.

Cellphones in Auckland can now tell you when your bus is due following the launch of WAP and text message versions of the regional council’s Rideline website.

The mobile section of the site, on which Auckland Regional Council has been testing the service since before Christmas, officially goes live today.

By texting the number 3666 and keying in locations, travellers can receive timetable details of buses, trains and ferries.

The system works using the ARC Rideline website, which was launched last May. Added to it are WAP and text-message emulators which allow the text messages to be sent to WAP phones and cellphones. It provides information in three ways: if travellers know where they want to go or know bus route numbers, if they can mention a street or landmark, or if they key in a four-digit number found at bus stops.

ARC director of operations and technology Tony Darby says the system is fully automated from the cellphone to the gateway service provider and uses the ARC’s website search engine to deliver the information. The system also “clips in” with the Rideline call centre.

“This is a case of getting the back end, the call centre, right and then adding the services,” he says.

Developing the WAP/SMS service over the past year or so cost less than $40,000, funded by Transfund subsidies. Transfund is also contributing $166,000 over three years toward funding the Rideline website. This adds to more than $1 million the ARC has spent developing the sophisticated database that drives the website’s journey planner and the computerisation of all ARC systems over the past two years.

Darby says while London Transport has a limited online bus timetable service, he believes the ARC system is more extensive in connecting cellphones direct to website search engines.

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