Bus riders wait at Wilshire and Western. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)
If Dora Chavez knew exactly when her bus would arrive she could hustle to make it on time, stroll easily to the stop, or call work to say she would be late.
With a new Metro program, Chavez will be able to do just that by using her phone or computer to get real-time information on when a bus will arrive at any of Los Angeles County's more than 15,000 Metro stops.
Dubbed NexTrip, the online service uses GPS and other technologies to track buses on their routes. It is "designed to help take the guesswork out of bus arrival and help you to get to your stop at the same time as your bus," according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
"Our customers are always looking for better and easier ways to get information about our buses," said Robin O'Hara, the agency's systems project manager. "When you're standing at a stop and you're wondering if your bus has gone by or if you're early and you don't know what time it is, it's nice to have access to that information."
Wondering when a bus will arrive — and waiting impatiently — is a common experience for many bus riders. Chavez, 35, a barista who took Line 733 from Mid-City to Union Station, said she only wished Metro had "thought about this sooner."
Similar systems are already in place in cities such as Portland, Ore., and San Francisco, said Al Martinez, a supervising engineer in Metro's operation systems.
The project will cost about $400,000 for the first year and $200,000 annually in the future, Martinez said. More than 100,000 people already are using the system each month.
Metro also plans to change thousands of signs at bus stops to help commuters use the system by providing specific location codes. Officials hope to expand the program to include rail service.
Another NexTrip feature allows smartphone users to find the closest bus stops, wherever they are.
A 63-year-old bus rider, who said her name was Rocky Mount, praised Nextrip. Waiting at a stop Friday, she said that carrying paper schedules is cumbersome.
"Your phone, you're always going to have that with you."