DART Adding New Tech to Aid Riders

Transit App on smartphone
Transit App on smartphone | Image by Transit/Facebook

Dallas Area Rapid Transit is rolling out new technology that simplifies tracking buses so riders know exactly when the next bus will arrive at their chosen stop.

Previously, bus tracking was only available on the DART GoPass stand-alone app, at DART.org, by texting 41411, or on kiosks and transit center digital dashboards. Now, however, riders can track buses on Google Maps, the Transit app, and other apps, removing a significant barrier and streamlining the ability to catch a ride.

“One of our strategic goals is for more people to use and rely on DART because its services are attractive and convenient,” said Dr. Julius Smith, DART vice president and chief information officer, in a press release. “To do that, we will continue to do all we can to deliver information directly to our riders in new and expanded ways. Our hope is for riders to be better able to plan their journeys, reducing uncertainty and minimizing wait times.”

DART said that board members had pushed for the expansion to provide easy more riders with easy access to real-time vehicle locations, arrival time predictions, and alerts such as detours and cancellations.

“We’re grateful to have begun this relationship with DART, and we can’t wait for Dallas riders to benefit from this reliable data – which can be seen by the thousands of people already using Transit, as well as those who rely on other apps or websites,” said David Block-Schachter, chief business officer at Transit.

DART has made a renewed focus on rider safety, convenience, and sanitation, as previously reported by DX. Among the upgrades made in 2023, new vinyl seats were installed in some buses, and the transit agency has begun replacing its fleet of buses with low-emission vehicles. Ridership is steadily rebounding after a sharp downturn during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019, more than 27 million riders used DART buses, but that number dropped to 19 million riders in 2021, per CBS News Texas. DART reports that ridership has climbed back to nearly 26 million in 2023.

“We actually saw our bus ridership return much quicker than our rail ridership, and of course rail is very visual,” DART spokesman Gordon Shattles said to CBS. “Everyone sees that one, but because bus has that ability to be at different locations, we can actually very quickly flex twice a year we look at our entire ridership and we determine where are people needing to go.”

The Dallas Morning News reported that DART was one of the only major transit agencies in the country that did not have the capability for real-time tracking outside of its own app.

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