Calgary Transit hopes to have system up and running by November

Calgary Transit is set to have the Real Time Customer Information System working across most of its C-Train network on Nov. 1, as technicians and transit staff go through their final testing stages.

Real Time Customer Information is a system that aims to provide C-Train users with up-to-the-minute updates on the status of trains, including delays and service interruptions, and expected arrivals to stations, as opposed to scheduled information.

Digital signs have been installed on every C-Train platform in Calgary, which will tell riders the status of the next three trains.

Nini Lee, a transit rider of seven years, says she thinks the system will prove useful.

“It will be good so in the winter people won’t be waiting outside, especially during the off-peak hours.”

Calgary Transit ran test runs on the new system in early October. Ron Collins, communications co-ordinator for Calgary Transit, said the tests have been successful.

“We’re still doing tests at this point because there were some little glitches, but we’re hopeful to get [the system fully] up and running by mid-November,” he said.

Calgary Transit is set to officially launch the Real Time Customer Information System after months of tests and technical issues. The system is expected to be fully in place by mid-November.

Photo by: Aryn GuthrieThe Real Time Customer Information System is costing Calgary Transit $17 million, with “money equally being shared by the three levels of government,” according to Collins.

“It’s a fabulous system and we now feel we are ready to roll it out.”

Toronto launched a similar system in 2008, calling it Next Train Arrival, and added Next Vehicle Arrival for buses and streetcars this July.

Brad Ross, director of corporate communications for the Toronto Transit Commission, said that the Next Vehicle Arrival has helped consumers with peace of mind.

“It’s very frustrating not knowing when a bus or streetcar is coming,” said Ross. “[The Next Vehicle Arrival system] gives the consumer time to make a decision to get a coffee or something while waiting. There’s less anxiety for the wait.”

Haley McNally, a resident from Ajax, Ont., has used Toronto’s transit system frequently in the past three years, saying that she likes the Next Train Arrival program.

“I like it, I like knowing when it’s coming; [it] lets me know if I have to run to the train, if I have plenty of time, etc.,” she stated.

However, Kalista Antoniuk, a former resident of Calgary who moved to Toronto in April, said although the system in Toronto has worked for her, she doesn’t think it will work in Calgary.

“The Toronto system is great, it’s nice to know when [the subway is] coming,” she said. “I use it a lot at night because I usually don’t get off work until around 11 p.m. If it says seven minutes, I’d probably stand in a different area than I normally would.

“But the trains are so useless in Calgary, unless you’re going to a hockey game or something. Calgary Transit couldn’t be worse. It won’t make a difference to know whether or not the train is coming, it’s that bad.

“It’s just extremely inconvenient, especially when it comes to trying to get to a station from wherever you are,” Antoniuk continued, recalling the three-hour commute she would have to take from the northwest to Mount Royal University when she was a student there.

“I feel like the city should be putting the money into expanding the transit system and making it more convenient than telling people when the crappy trains are going to be there.”

Still, transit rider Alley Tunney holds on to the view that the system will help.

“It would make [travels] a lot nicer,” she said. “It would be easier to travel if they gave you an estimated time.”

Calgary Transit plans to expand the Real Time Customer Information System to buses by mid-2013, according to Collins.

aguthrie@cjournal.ca