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WIKI: How might we make it possible to allow residents to view the location of public transit in real-time?


(Carl V. Lewis) #1

NOTE: I’ve made this post a ‘wiki,’ meaning anyone can make changes/additions to it, and your username will be added to the changelog, just like on, well, Wikipedia. You’ll notice the green ‘Edit’ icon in the top right of the post. :bulb:

Project Page: http://opensavannah.org/projects/Track-a-CAT

Project Repository: https://github.com/opensavannah/Track-a-CAT

As most of you know, we’ve been chatting recently with Grant Sparks, Senior Planner for CAT, about real-time tracking of Savannah’s bus system. This is something most other regional transit organizations in other cities have already implemented, and it’s also something Grant himself has experience putting in place in his previous role in Greenville, SC, where he worked with the Code for Greenville brigade to put together a trolley-tracking app for the city’s trolley system (a project we very well could simply fork and go with).

While the ultimate goal would obviously be to have real-time tracking on all of CAT’s bus fleet, because of funding arrangements and a current contractual relationship with a vendor, Grant said he thinks it’d be smartest to start off with the city’s new purple trolley fleet (which currently has two vehicles, with two more planned), and will run through the entirety of the Historic District all the way south to Park Avenue at the southern end of Forsyth Park. The goal of the new trolley system is to lessen congestion downtown, and to provide a way for locals to get around more easily without having to deal with the hassle of finding parking or walking long distances in the southern heat. Many locals have expressed sentiments that they feel like going downtown is a chore currently, and they in turn prefer to avoid traveling to the downtown of their own city. Allowing this to become habit is akin to giving over control of the Historic District to the tourism industry alone, and also ignores the many vital public service offices that residents must travel downtown to do business with.

Obviously, because it also would serve tourists to some extent, there’s a good deal more political and financial support for starting out with the trolley fleet. But the trolley fleet is not primarily intended as a project for the tourism industry. It is still open and public transit, and will act as a more efficient, frequent and dependable substitute for the current bus routes that criss-cross the Historic District in a rather haphazard fashion, often in an inefficient route through squares rather than taking shortcuts down alleys and side-streets that a larger bus can’t easily handle.

We’ve started discussing some of the potential solutions to do this project, and Grant has said CAT can likely foot the bill for most of the hardware and infrastructure.

So, that said, I’ll let Grant weigh in if he’d like, as well as open up discussion to everyone else.

Who has some feasible ideas for implementing a tracking system for the four vehicles in the new trolley fleet?

How well might those solutions scale to encompass the entire CAT fleet later down the line?

Google Map of Proposed Trolley Routes
(Brian Young) #2

We need a map!! :slight_smile: The map can be accessible via browsers (mobile and desktop) and should probably have it’s own app as well. In general, I’m anti-app but I think a Savannah Transit App would be really useful for expanding usage to locals and make checking location a quick process. This can be treated as a pilot phased directed just towards the trolley system.

Reporting current location to the map should be relatively straightforward, either Arduino with GPS/Cell chip custom programmed to report geo location or use one of the Android based Fleet Tracking / geo-location reporting apps. For advanced features we’ll probably want the route and estimated arrival time for next trolley at each stop available which will take some math based data collected from pilot phases of the app recording location.

(grant.sparks) #3

Adding to what Carl already said, I think it would be best to start with our downtown trolleys because of their smaller footprint. When we beta tested the trolley tracker in Greenville we had a few hiccups. Luckily, our programmers were able to troubleshoot by simply hopping on the trolleys while they were in service (they knew that the trolleys serviced each stop every 15 minutes). If we were to choose one of our regular city routes, it would be difficult to find the buses while in service due to the long routes that they follow.

If anyone is interested in viewing a map of our routes (including the current downtown routes), I’ve created a custom Google Map here – https://drive.google.com/open?id=1KdI-dP1NBRuPKcBf8p2zeRg9ojg&usp=sharing . On the left you can turn on/off a few layers, one of which is our fare-free downtown routes.

For comparison, I’ve created a separate map which shows the proposed routing schemes that we’ll be implementing in July – https://drive.google.com/open?id=1eY2KiQYfIY6Wkyf1A6IeijXGux0&usp=sharing . The City of Savannah will decide which routing scheme we will be deploying.

if you have any questions please let me know! I appreciate any help you can provide.

(Carl V. Lewis) #4

From @grant.sparks :

##DOT Maps - Proposed CAT Trolley Routes

This contains a set of three proposed routes, as well as some other indicator geospatial data.

Source KML: DOT Changes.kml.xml (70.8 KB)

(Carl V. Lewis) #5

Collecting various resources for this project here:


CAT Routes:

(Carl V. Lewis) #6

Proposed Trolley Routes:

(Carl V. Lewis) #7

(Carl V. Lewis) #8

And welcome @bkoupal!

(Carl V. Lewis) #9

Hey team–

I’ve begun collecting various resources we could explore for this project at the board below.

Want to add something to the board ^^?

Simply send any email containing links, files, texts, images or document to cat-tracker+8475c40676@opensavannah.dropmark.com. Then it should appear in the collection briefly.

(Kevinsagis) #10

Json schedule… Sweet. Perhaps we could look in to relating this to our stop layer from www.sagis.org and other gis layers…

(Carl V. Lewis) #11

(Carl V. Lewis) #12


(Kevinsagis) #13

http://openmbta.org/ https://stefan.bloggt.es/2015/02/free-and-open-source-your-transit-system-now/ https://efficientgov.com/blog/2013/01/10/open-data-allows-your-city-to-develop-bus-tracking-apps/