MTA officials admit plan to track buses using GPS has failed

The MTA said its plan to track bus arrival times using GPS technology has failed and it currently has no plans to move forward with it.
By Philip Newman

Two Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials Thursday told a Council hearing about years of failed attempts to implement a system by which buses could be tracked by satellite and said they have no further plans to make it happen.

“Totally unacceptable!” City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) told Robert Walsh and Sassan Davoodi, whose project is supposed to make it possible to electronically locate buses and to relay such information to straphangers.

Walsh and Davoodi said the MTA began work toward an Automatic Vehicle Locater system 1996 but that several successive companies had been hired  but failed.

The MTA officials, who testified at a public hearing conducted by Liu, chairman of the Council’s Transportation Committee, said they were not at liberty to discuss details because the case involving one of the failed firms is in the courts.

“Well, at this point, do you have a plan to go forward? Liu asked. “What is your next step?

Both officials said they could offer no next step, “although we remain committed to AVL.”

“This is an incredibly rude awakening for the transit-riding public,” Liu said. “Transit riders now are told the project is not only stalled but there is no plan to go forward.”

The idea, which is in operation in a number of U.S. and  foreign cities, is for a satellite tracking system to locate buses and transmit their location and estimated time of  arrival to lighted signs at bus stops.

 Liu told the MTA officials he would schedule another hearing within the next couple of months and hoped for information from them about a renewed plan for a bus locator system.

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