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Capital Metro updates ETA for journey-planning app

Wednesday, September 18, 2019 by Ryan Thornton

Recovering from a rocky start, the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority says its new and improved mobile transit application will soon be live and ready for mobile users to download.

The agency launched its new application for Android users on Monday, promising, among other features, the ability to purchase electronic tickets using both Apple Pay and Google Pay, more reliable bus tracking data and an enhanced trip-planning experience.

As soon as the application went live, however, some customers noticed issues accessing their customer accounts.

The agency was immediately made aware of the problem, advising customers to resolve the issue by signing out of the application and signing back in before force closing and reopening the app. By Tuesday morning, the agency had again updated its application for Android users, suggesting they download the update and log into their accounts to access their previously purchased tickets.

As of now, Capital Metro says all Android users should experience no issues with the updated app.

Initially expected to be released Tuesday, Apple users will be able to download the new application at some point this week, after it has been reviewed by Apple and released to the online App Store.

Once available, the agency says all customers will enjoy a more intuitive user experience with easier purchasing and quicker access to purchased transit passes, faster bus tracking information and a more useful trip-planning tool that allows users to see the location of the next bus and its approximate departure time from a given stop.

A thorough video demonstration of the new application is available at

Bus tracking data is already available in applications like Transit and Google Maps. With this application update, customers will be able to purchase and access tickets, plan trips and locate buses in one place.

The improved bus tracking technology is made possible by a contract with San Francisco-based transit tech company Swiftly Inc. The Capital Metro Board of Directors approved a contract with Swiftly in November 2018, initiating an extended process of testing and adopting the technology.

Swiftly co-founder and CEO Jonathan Simkin told the Austin Monitor Tuesday that the company has coordinated the installation of onboard routers to serve the additional function of bringing bus location updates down from roughly 120-second frequencies to 10-second intervals, allowing a sharp improvement in location accuracy.

Using that data, Simkin said Swiftly was able to help the agency revise its arrival-time prediction accuracy by 30 percent. The new revised algorithm, Simkin said, incorporates historical traffic patterns like time of day and week and average speed to provide the most accurate ETA possible.

While a number of North American cities have made similar bus tracking improvements, Simkin said Capital Metro is the first transit agency in the nation to incorporate detours into its estimated bus arrival times. Ongoing and expected detours will be processed every evening so that customers are informed if a bus will not be passing a particular stop.

The combination of detour awareness and real-time bus tracking data earned Capital Metro a technology innovation award this year from AT&T and Government Technology magazine.

Photo by Steven Vance made available through a Creative Commons license.

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