A little over a year ago Edmonton Transit (ETS) introduced bus schedules via text message. Simply send a message to 31100 from your cell phone with the bus stop number, and ETS will respond with a list of upcoming routes and times. It’s a fantastic service that I have used dozens of times over the last year, and clearly I’m not alone. A little over 3.1 million messages were sent last year! Here’s the monthly breakdown:
Back in June, when I wrote about the launch of the advertising component to the service, about 1.2 million messages had been sent, or 7050 per day. By the end of the year, the daily average had risen to 8494. You can see that the increase is due in large part to the back to school season – the number of messages sent jumped from 225,730 in August to 333,877 in September.
As expected, increased use of the text messaging service has led to a decrease in the number of calls made to BusLink, the automated 24-hour telephone line for transit information. Nathan Walters from ETS told the Journal that the number of calls dropped by 340,000 in the first nine months of last year to 2.8 million. I suspect it dropped even further when school started up again.
It’s great to see people embracing initiatives like this! ETS recently launched an updated Trip Planner that contains a number of new features like the ability to subscribe to email alerts for planned detours and bus stop closures, and there are additional technology-related services on the way. Should be an exciting year for connected transit riders!