Lafayette bus customers can now use Google Maps to navigate the transit system and will soon have access to free Wi-Fi as they travel — two changes aimed at luring more riders for the municipal bus service.
Accessing the Google Maps transit option allows riders to see the bus route on a smartphone app, lets them know how many stops it takes to get to the closest bus stop to their destination and gives them bus transfer information.
The Google Maps option is one of the improvements the Public Works Department plans to roll out this summer.
Free Wi-Fi on the buses should be available by July 4, said Mike Mitchell, the transit and parking manager, making Lafayette one of the first cities in the state to offer free Wi-Fi on transit buses.
City-parish government also plans to add two new buses, boosting the fleet to 12.
With the Wi-Fi come new opportunities for residents to stay better informed about the transit system routes.
“Google also has a real time feed that gives you real-time information about the route,” said Warren Abadie, a traffic engineer with city-parish government. “Is one running ahead of schedule? Behind schedule? And it gives you real-time alerts. That’s something that we’re going to do in the future.”
The department is looking to add live tracking of the buses on the website, Abadie said.
The real-time feed and live tracking should be available in the next two to three months.
“The way the real time works is that we’re putting a wireless router that has integrated GPS (satellite tracking) on the bus,” Abadie said.
It costs $25,000 to install the Wi-Fi equipment, and from there, it’s going to cost the transit system about $500 a month for the Wi-Fi service.
Abadie said the current wave of improvements has been in the works for years.
“It’s just ideas we’ve had that we just started implementing,” he said.