Spokane’s New Rapid Transit Line Relays Real-Time GPS Location/Stops To Riders

September 5, 2023 by Dave Haynes

The kind of live positioning visuals motorists routinely use for getting around are being applied to transit rider information screens in Spokane, WA, using technology from Nebraska-based Nanonation.

The Spokane Transit Authority has launched a real-time on-bus display system on its rapid transit fleet that relays accurate location information to paying riders.

Unlike most transit systems, which use predicted timing, says PR, the custom solution that Nanonation developed in conjunction with the STA uses live GPS positioning, giving passengers up to date information about bus arrival times at each stop via multiple digital signage displays throughout the bus. The system also displays announcements and promotional content, all managed by STA staff via Nanonation’s Commandpoint Content Management System (CMS).

The system was launched in July on Spokane’s new City Line bus rapid transit line.

The system will provide faster, more convenient transportation, improving the downtown experience without additional congestion. The 60-foot articulated buses utilize state-of-the-art battery-electric technology and are outfitted with Nanonation’s real-time passenger information displays to improve passenger amenities.

Nanonation’s project with STA is groundbreaking as the first of its kind in the country. Unlike the standard infotainment systems offered by other vendors in the industry, Nanonation’s approach is fully customized, not relying on out-of-the-box proprietary solutions.

The on-bus content is custom-tailored with a branded layout featuring a real-time map that uses GPS coordinates to determine where the bus is in relation to its route or next stop. The onboard templates can also be configured to include information regarding significant landmarks and tourist attractions riders may be interested in during their trip.

This new on-bus project expands the use of Nanonation’s transit signage for the STA, which already included transit schedule displays at the central transit station and outdoor digital information displays at 25 bus stops throughout the STA network. The digital signs at the bus stops now include updated departure information based on real-time bus statuses and the ability to automatically display when a stop is closed or a trip is canceled due to an emergency, construction, etc., making the entire information network easier to manage for STA personnel.

These systems are part of the STA’s investment in station improvements to lift the public’s experience and attract more riders. Providing accurate and helpful real-time information to help reduce rider anxiety and enhance their overall experience.

Hat tip to that transit authority for embracing passenger information as the best use for displays. It’s so easy to chase the dollars from advertising, but ads do nothing for the rider experience. I like the amount of detail provided – not just saying the name of the stop but also what’s near that stop – like attractions and services.

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