What time is the next bus due? The question often heard at the bus stop will have a high tech answer in future when Lancashire County Council launches its Real Time Information system.
The £2.4m project, which forms a key element of the Total Transport Network, will see bus stops in the county equipped with computerised screens to tell waiting passengers how long they will have to wait for the next bus. The same kind of idea has been working for many years on the London Underground.
Orbiting 'global positioning' satellites will track the vehicles on their journeys and provide information to be flashed up at the stops. Technology specialists ACIS (Advanced Communications & Information Systems) have been awarded the contract to supply the computer equipment that will link the buses to the satellites.
Preston Bus is the first bus operator to come on board and is providing additional funding towards the scheme. County Council officers are currently in negotiations with other local operators to ensure as many buses as possible are covered.
Preston will get the system first but transport bosses plan to install the technology throughout the county over the next few years. The first phase will see satellite tracking devices fitted to 129 buses in the city to provide information to 141 stops. Equipment will also be installed to allow the buses priority at traffic lights and also control staff to talk direct with drivers.
Stuart Wrigley, Lancashire's Head of Transport Policy, said:
"This has the potential to revolutionise public transport in Lancashire and help make travelling by bus a more attractive alternative to the car.
The government has shown the confidence they have in the scheme by giving the County Council £1.8m. I am confident that with the help of ACIS and Preston Bus we will be able to develop a system that will benefit the whole of the county."
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