Gauging Mass Transit ETAs Via TXTs

Text service puts DART schedule in riders’ hands

by Bruce Felps

Pacing, glancing at a watch, looking down the street or up the tracks in anticipation of the next DART bus or train soon should be a thing of the past.

Dallas’ mass transit organization plans to put the estimated time of arrival information in the palms of riders’ hands. Its new service — which needs a snazzy name so let’s see those suggestions — involves specific ID numbers assigned to each bus and rail stop.

For sake of example, a bus rider at stop No. 28076 can text “DART 28076” to 41411 and the time of the next bus’ arrival magically appears.

The program, though, isn’t quite 100 percent in place. The system now can send only the scheduled time of arrival for the next vehicle. The precise time, GPS tracking, maybe, is set for phase II. DART has tagged only about 1,000 bus stops out of 12,000 with the unique ID numbers so they still have a ways to go.

There are work-arounds, though, he said, resorting to corporate-speak.

According to the DART press release, “A new ‘Stop ID Finder’ is prominently displayed with a link on the DART Trip Planner on the top right section of DART's updated home page. Simply enter an address and a Google map displays the nearest DART stops with ID number. Customers using the DART Trip Planner or the new desktop version of ‘Where's My Bus?’ can plug in this number instead of an address,” if you follow all that.

So there you go, ride comfortably, ride promptly, ride DART. Heeeey, that’s pretty good. You DART guys can use that, but it’s going to cost you.

Bruce Felps owns and operates East Dallas Times, an online community news outlet serving the White Rock Lake area. The name “DART board” has always made him chuckle.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of NBC, NBC 5, or its employees.

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