Carly Engstrom/The Daily Evergreen
More than a million U.S. stimulus dollars are being used to fund upgrades, such as GPS systems in Pullman buses, as well as buses in the rest of the state.
The cost to taxpayers: $18,000 per bus in Pullman.
In Pullman, the satellite tracking system cost about $325,000, said Rod Thornton, transit manager for Pullman Transit. This was part of a grant of about $500,000 that also went toward installing cameras into the buses as well as additional enhancements.
“It is a system that allows us to see real time where the buses are, how far away they are from any given stop, that sort of thing,” Thornton said. “In time, there will be a webpage where riders can go and check and see where their buses are in relationship to what bus stop they are at right then. You’ll be able to look on your computer to do that. We’re developing an app for smart phones, so it can be done that way as well.”
For the last few years, both Pullman Transit and Everett Transit have worked toward installing satellite tracking systems into their buses with funds from the $787 billion American Recovery and Revitalization Act.
One of the beneficiaries of that stimulus money is a Toronto-based company that provides satellite-tracking systems. Though Strategic Mapping Inc. is a Canadian company, it has a warehouse in Buffalo, New York, where the materials they use are assembled. Due to the funding coming from federal stimulus money, the materials needed to be purchased and manufactured in the U.S., said Vincent Bruscas, Everett Transit project coordinator.
“That’s just to ensure the U.S. dollars stay creating U.S. jobs,” Bruscas said.
Jordan Brock is the vice president of global sales for Strategic Mapping Inc., the company that installed Pullman Transit and Everett Transit’s satellite tracking systems. He said he has seen an increase in customers that have funding for projects like these. The company has installed systems in states throughout the U.S.
“The technology has been around for a while,” Brock said, referring to the satellite tracking system, “but as technology has gotten better, it seemed like the right time to get involved.”
Everett Transit received a $1.2 million grant, which is going toward various improvements, Bruscas said. The public information portion, which includes the GPS system and passenger counting, costs about $789,000, which amounts to approximately $15,000 per bus.
Brock said the services are beneficial to passengers whether the community is smaller, like Pullman, or larger, like Toronto.
“Whether you’re smaller or larger the idea is the same, the system improves operations, and disseminates reliable information,"he said."You see real GPS location.”