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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Roosevelt Island Red Bus GPS Tracking System For Octagon Residents But Not Anyone Else - At Least For Now

Waiting for bus image by Amy Kim Ganter

Very few issues on Roosevelt Island raise the ire of residents more than those involving the Red Bus. Whether it is the perceived special service for Octagon residents, unreliability, bunching together, conduct of the drivers or tethering to the Tram Schedule - anything involving the Roosevelt Island Red Bus is sure to be of great importance to residents. Here's the latest.

At the December 4 RIOC Board of Directors Meeting (web cast available here at the 24 1/2 minute mark), RIOC President Steve Shane reported that the building owners of the Octagon requested the right to install a Global Positioning Tracking System (GPS) Antenna on top of the Roosevelt Island Red Buses that go to the Octagon so that Octagon residents can have up to date information on the arrival time of the Red Bus at the Octagon and perhaps at the Tram and Subway stations as well. This is a very good idea except that such a tracking system would not be available to residents of any Roosevelt Island building other than the Octagon.

Mr. Shane also disclosed that about eight months ago RIOC management considered and rejected the same GPS tracking system for all of Roosevelt Island. Mr. Shane said that at the time RIOC management could not justify the expense because, for other than the Octagon, the Red Bus route is "a fairly short run" and residents can "look up and down Main Street".

According to Mr. Shane, the cost of the system would be approximately $15-18,000 in initial capital cost and $4-5,000 in monthly expenses to RIOC. Upon prodding by RIOC Director Kraut, Mr. Shane agreed to revisit the issue of a GPS tracking service for Red Bus service to all of Roosevelt Island, advised the RIOC Board that they could choose to pay for such a system and indicated that he could ask the other building owners to contribute to the cost of the system. On the last point, RIOC Director Stewart advised that he knew the owners of Westview and Island House had previously rejected spending any money on such a system.

The RIOC Board approved the Octagon' request.

Here's a diagram of how the GPS bus tracking service works from Nextbus.

And a video of how it works in San Francisco.


Anonymous said...

About time there was a way to tell if the bus actually might show up - the lack of a schedule of any sort is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Two months after it's in use and I bet some kid from Island House starts transmitting a jamming signal....

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be much cheaper to create a schedule for the red bus instead? I mean, the Octagon folks probably asked Shane about the unreliable departure times of the bus. I wonder what his answer was that made them ask and pay for a GPS system.

Does the union the bus drivers are in prohibit the creation of a time table for the red bus?

Anonymous said...

"look up and down Main Street"? What the? Right now we have to be at the bus stop at least 20-30 minutes before the tram departs in order to be able to get a bus that gets us there on time. Sure, we end up looking up and down Main Street waiting for that bus to arrive. A GPS system like this allows us to check the location of the next bus over the Internet! Whoa! What a concept!

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