Buses get mobility boost

Auckland's bus service may be driven to a new technological level next year.

Auckland’s bus service may be driven to a new technological level next year.

Passengers could find themselves whizzing to work and back faster than before and getting accurate indications of when the next bus is coming, thanks to a plan to use global positioning systems and GPRS wireless systems to speed buses through green lights and feed data to display signs at bus stops.

The plan, approved in principle by Auckland City’s Transport and Roading Committee, is subject to funding from Transfund New Zealand and Infrastructure Auckland, says Auckland City senior transport planner Vadi Vencantachellum.

“The total budget for the project is $7 million and we’re hoping for an answer on the funding by February.”

If the funding is approved, the contract will go to an Australian joint venture, SAAB-Brisbane City Enterprises, which has developed a similar system for Brisbane’s buses.

“The project would involve a vehicle location system with a GPS [global positioning system] on each bus and a GPRS packet radio communications system to transmit location information so that lights can be kept green if a bus is within a certain distance.

“The signal will go back to the control centre, where it will be decided whether the light should be kept green or, if it’s red, look at how easy it will be to turn the green light on.”

Passengers will also benefit from real time display screens, similar to those at a few bus stops such as Mt Eden village, which will use the positioning technology to tell how many minutes away the next bus is.

If the plan gets the green light, it will involve 174 intersections and 204 bus stops, with a possible additional feature being inside display signs on Link buses advising the location of the next stop.

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