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PSTA's Real Time Bus Info is Really Here

PSTA's Real Time Bus Information system can tell you exactly when your bus will leave your stop all from a smart phone or Internet device.

We introduced you to our new Real Time system a few months ago while we were in test mode and posted an update on the progress. We're pleased to tell you that Real Time Bus Information is really here now!

The system works with GPS technology and allows PSTA to pinpoint each vehicle’s exact location at all times. This means we can provide you with reliable, real-time departure information when your bus is up to 30 minutes away. There are lots of ways to access the system (some of which we've not told you about here in the blog before) and some important things to be aware of as you begin:

Stop#

Every bus stop in PSTA’s system has a unique bus stop number. To interact with the Real Time system, you’ll need to know that bus stop number. It’s located on a sticker at the bottom of the Real Time sign installed at your bus stop (sign installation is ongoing - we have 5,000+ stops, so it'll take us a little while to get them all put up). You can also find out your stop number by looking it up on the RidePSTA.net website (see Visit the Website section below).

*Tip*
Once you find your bus stop number, keep a list of favorite stops and their stop numbers handy.

Call the InfoLine

Using a technology called “Interactive Voice Response” or IVR, our Real Time system is able to give you automated departure times by phone. Just call the InfoLine at  727-540-1900, press 1 for Real Time, and choose your language. You can use your phone’s keypad or just speak your choices out loud. Enter your stop number and the system will tell you when the next few buses will serve your stop during the next 30 minutes. NOTE: We are still implementing the IVR portion of Real Time Bus Info, so sometimes the system might tell you "Real Time info is not available." Please stick with us while we iron out the wrinkles in this one piece of the larger Real Time pie!

*Tip*
After you’re in the automated system you don’t have to wait to hear prompts:
Say English or press 1
or
Say Spanish or press 2
then
Press 2 to use your phone’s keypad
or
Say “yes” or press 1 to use the speech recognition
then
Enter your bus stop number

 *Tip*
If you’re using and Android phone and the system has trouble understanding you in voice-recognition mode go into your phone’s sound settings and turn off “audible touch tones.”

Visit the Website

If you’re at a bus stop and have a Smart Phone, you can use a barcode scanner app to scan the QR code on the Real Time sign, or just type in www.RidePSTA.net from your browser. Type in your stop number and click “Find.” The system will show you when the next several buses will serve that stop. If you don’t know your stop number, choose your route, direction, and stop description in the drop down boxes. The system will show you the next several buses that will serve the stop.

*Tip*
Searching for your stop number? After you use the drop down boxes to locate the stop the system will fill in the bus stop number for you.

Automatic Email and Text Alerts

While you’re on RidePSTA.net you can also create an account and set up alerts. Each alert you set up will send you next bus information based upon the specific criteria you input. For example, if you want to see the departure times for the stop outside your work every weekday at 4:00 p.m., the system will automatically send it every day at 4:00 p.m. Just select your stop, the time you want the alert to arrive, and check if you want it to come via email and/or text message (your phone’s standard text and data charges may apply). You can go in any time to add, delete, or edit your alerts.

Text Messaging

You can also use your cell phone to get instant bus departure info. Type 41411 in the “to” box of a new text message, then put in PSTA, a space, and your stop number (like this: PSTA 3663). Send the text message and you’ll get one back almost instantly with the next buses serving that stop (your phone’s standard text and data charges may apply).

*Tip*
Reply with “R” to get a new text with updated info for that stop. Great if you use the same few stops every day!

Signs and Announcements

Many of PSTA’s busiest transfer locations have electronic signs showing upcoming departure info. You’ll find them at Grand Central Station, Williams Park, Park Street Terminal, Gateway Mall, Tyrone Square Mall, Shoppes at Park Place, and Westfield Countryside Mall. Usually they’ll tell you when the next few buses are due at the transfer center, though the signs at Grand Central are platform specific.

Once you’re on board, look for new electronic signs at the front of the bus that will announce upcoming intersections. The system will also make audio announcements with the same information.

Information the “Old Fashioned” Way

PSTA is very excited to be bringing this state-of-the-art technology to our transit system. We know it will be very helpful to our passengers and encourage you to give it a try. But, we’re also still here for you if you prefer to get your bus information the old fashioned way: our professional Customer Service Representatives will answer the InfoLine when you call and press O!

However you choose to get your information, we’re glad to have you aboard!

~Cyndi Raskin-Schmitt, RidePSTA Blog Editor

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Leroy A Haggard June 16, 2012 at 01:44 PM
That sounds all well and good, but where are the bus stops? Get off a bus thinking a bus stop will ne directyly acroos the street wwhere one got off for the retrurn trip. Not so the case. It couod be a halk block or so in either direction. And some of the bus stop signs are almost invisible. Bring on a rapid form of transportation is the key. It takes two hours on a bus to get from Clearwater to St Petes. That equates to a 4 hour round trip ordeal. Increase in ridership will not last at a slow form of transportation
Barbara Corfield June 16, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Why wouldn't the bus stop in the opposite direction be almost across the street from the other one??? why would it be a half block away? That 's usually how it is with bus stops that I have ever used. But those are ones in other States...So,, wouldn't know about Clearwater,or St.Petersburg. As I'm headed that way to move in September.. And am dependant on the bus system. And needing all the information I can get for Public Transportation.
Leroy A Haggard June 17, 2012 at 12:32 PM
That is a very good question. Why? For the record, I am not talking about the bus stops in the heart of the cities like Clearwater or St Pete's, but in the areas between the two cities. Like Largo, Fl which is right in the middle. If one drove betwwen Clearwater and St Petes, it would take about a half hour drive if that long. On tjhe bus system, between the two cities, it is a two hour trip, or 4 hours round trip to travel about 40 miles
RidePSTA June 18, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Stops are usually close to each other, but there are certain factors taken into consideration when stops are placed. For example, is the ground level? Are there sidewalks? Is the location safe? Is it wheelchair accessible? These and many other factors are all relevant when deciding exact placement. You can use the real time system (the map part on the website) to zoom into a location and see the placement of the stops. If you ever find yourself in need of a new stop, you can call and ask for it. We'll evaluate the location and put in a stop if it meets the criteria. As for travel times, we do have several long cross-county routes. If you ever need help planning a trip, I encourage you to call into the InfoLIne at (727) 540-1900 and speak with a customer service rep - they know all of our bus routes in great detail and can help you choose the quickest way to your destination. Thanks! ~Cyndi~
Leroy A Haggard June 20, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Some of those bus stops are nothing more than a piece of pipe pounded in the ground with a sign that reads bus stop. There is a bus stop near the Tampa Express on Ulmerton Road. This is nohing more than a piece of pipe pounded in the ground and a good two three blocks away from an intersection. 4 to 6 blocks round trip on a wheelchair? Or pray and make a dash across 6 lanes of traffic at twilight. I made my trip to Tampa once and never again will I. I've gotton off bus stops where the nearest crosswalks are bout 4 to six blocks away. That equates to a bout a mile round trip to to get from one side of the street to the other. Look at the fatalities in and around Largo. Sixty miles North of here, Springhill Fla, they have warninbg signs for Bear Crossings. Try and find a pedestrian crossing sign except near schools or hospitals. I can pick three stops near where I live and it is not a safe zone. I look for excuses now not to venture out of the house. Florida is not geared for pedestrian foot traffic. And when one becomes to old to drive, like myself, one depends on luck and legs.
John Peters January 01, 2013 at 02:01 PM
Great system when it works....BUT the text for stop time information hasn't worked for the last 3 days (from Dec. 28 to now Jan. 1st.). I keep getting internal server error messages on my iphone
RidePSTA January 02, 2013 at 01:12 PM
John - Thank you! No one reported it to us, and due to the holidays staffing here has bee light. We'll get it fixed up right away. In the future, if you notice something like this will you please call our InfoLine at 727-540-1900 and report it right away? Thanks!

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