LAFAYETTE — Bus riders may soon be able to use their phones to keep tabs on when their ride is due for arrival.
The Lafayette Transit System is working on a new smartphone app that would allow riders to check on the status of their bus, one of several changes underway or planned for the city-owned bus service.
“We want to make it where more people have the ability to use the system,” City-Parish Transit and Parking Manager Mike Mitchell said Monday.
His comments came on the day that LTS reworked its bus routes to cut the wait time for some areas of Johnston Street.
Mitchell said city-parish staff are now working in-house on the smartphone app, which would tie into the GPS tracking system already in place for city buses.
Route tracking for Lafayette buses is available online at www.ridelts.com, but Mitchell said the smartphone app, which could be available by next year, would allow much easier mobile access to route information.
“We are just trying to make it easier for passengers to see where their bus is,” Mitchell said.
He also said a new device planned for the main bus terminal downtown will display arrival times for buses.
“It will give them a countdown as to when the buses arrive,” Mitchell said.
In line with those proposed improvements, LTS also is researching the possibility of offering wireless Internet service on buses.
He said the overall goal is to make bus service more convenient with the hope of attracting more riders.
Mitchell expects the route changes that went into effect Monday to be a big help.
The old 30-minute wait time for buses along busy portions of Johnston Street was too long, Mitchell said, but cutting that wait time down to 12 or 15 minutes along portions of the street could turn bus travel into a viable transportation option, especially for University of Louisiana at Lafayette students.
“If I get in my car, I can be where I want to be in 30 minutes,” Mitchell said.
UL-Lafayette students may soon have even more of an incentive to use Lafayette’s bus service.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council is set to vote Aug. 19 on an agreement with UL-Lafayette that would give students, faculty and staff a free ride on city buses anywhere in Lafayette.
The free service is part of a proposed agreement with the university that also would add up to five city buses to ferry students between campus and the parking lot at Cajun Field, adding to the university’s fleet of 11 buses and three shuttles.