OCEAN CITY — Ocean City’s new “Where’s the Bus?” tracking system is achieving the desired results with shrinking wait times and greater efficiency.
Last year, the Mayor and Council approved the purchase and implementation of the TransLoc auto vehicle locator (AVL) system, which allows municipal bus riders to track the location of the next bus heading their way. The AVL system is an online application that allow riders to track the location of the city’s buses as they make their way along Coastal Highway.
The system was rolled out for the first time on New Year’s Eve and the number of users has been steadily increasing since. During Tuesday’s Transportation Committee meeting, Transportation Director Mark Rickards provided some recent data for the TransLoc system.
“The good news is it continues to go up,” he said. “It’s really doing what it was supposed to do. We were averaging 300 hits per day during offseason and that number jumped to over 700 during the month of May thus far. We had 4,000-plus hits during Springfest weekend, so the numbers are pretty remarkable.”
There were some early glitches with the AVL system, but Rickards said those had been ironed out for the most part with a few exceptions, largely created by the major rehabilitation project in a vast area of Coastal Highway.
“It’s functioning well and the system is good,” he said. “We did have some issues with the paving project and showing people where the bus was going to be, but that has been resolved now.”
Rickards explained the TransLoc system has been effective in making the municipal bus system more efficient and has contributed to a drop in headway, or the average time spent waiting for the next bus.
“In a 24-hour period during Springfest, the average headway dropped to seven minutes,” he said. “When you average 40-minute times overnight, getting down to an average of seven minutes is very good.”
The frequency of buses is reduced greatly in the overnight and early morning hours because of demand, generally resulting in longer wait times, but even when those hours are factored in, the bus wait times are declining, according to Rickards.
“Even with 40-minute headway times overnight, we’re still averaging 10 to 15 minutes during the week and even lower on the weekends,” he said. We expect it to be even lower during the summer. If we see the number of buses piling up, we can decrease the headway even further.”