System allows passengers to receive text messages for scheduled bus times

Calgary Transit launched a text messaging service called TeleText on March 19 that aims to provide faster service than the existing phone-based Teleride system.

The TeleText system allows transit users to text their four-digit bus stop number to 74000 and find their next scheduled bus times.

The TeleText system cost between $60,000 to $90,000 to put in place, said Ron Collins, Calgary Transit spokesperson. However, there is no cost to transit riders, other than the costs of the texts

“It’s very efficient, and it’s a lot faster than Teleride,” Collins said.

“It will give you, within a couple of seconds, your next bus times. There’s no waiting on the phone for Teleride,” Collins said.

The Teleride system, which has been in place since 1987, operates in the same manner as the TeleText system. However, a rider has to call the bus stop number and an automated voice will tell the customer when the next scheduled bus is coming.

TeleText allows transit riders to check their bus times via text messages.
Photo by: Aryn Guthrie

Collins said that the Teleride system won’t be affected by the launch of TeleText.

“It’s just another option. Those who would rather text will continue to use that, while some people will continue to use the Teleride system,” he said.

Tyler Windrem, a long-time Calgary Transit user, said that he would consider using TeleText.

“It’d be easier — I wouldn’t have to keep calling the bus. It would just stay on my phone in a text,” Windrem said.

Windrem added that the TeleText system could have the possibility of replacing the Teleride system because of the convenience.

However, Natalie Riad, who has relied on the bus for the past seven years, doesn’t believe the system will take over Teleride.

“Not everyone texts and (not everyone) would be familiar with the technology. It could easily have bugs since it is in the starting stage,” Riad said.

Those who wish to have additional information about their bus routes, such as service delays or changes in scheduling, can also sign up for a free text message alert service at calgarytransit.me

Riad noted that she would definitely use TeleText, but finds a problem with the text alert system.

“It’s supposed to be fast and efficient. Registering seems to take away from that,” Riad said.

She added that she would be annoyed with constant alerts coming to her phone and said she checks Twitter for transit updates instead.

TeleText will provide real-time information instead of scheduled information on buses in 2014.

For more information visit calgarytransit.com.

aguthrie@cjournal.ca