The days of standing outside in the middle of a snowstorm wondering whether you missed a city bus may soon be over.
A half-million-dollar technology upgrade expected to be approved at Monday's City Council meeting will pave the way for Sault Transit riders to track exact locations of buses on their mobile phones or on a web display at the downtown terminal.
"Replacement of the current automatic vehicle location (AVL) system with updated technology will provide transit with a unified computerized system with all components needed in today’s modern transit buses," says Tim Gowans, the city's manager of purchasing.
"This system will have the ability to link several transit technologies together into one system that can be used in many ways."
"Passenger information will...be available via a mobile app that will allow passengers to have real-time bus information on their mobile device providing passengers with live transit route detail."
"This project also includes a web display system that will allow transit to provide real-time information at the terminal as well as send messages to passengers for any changes/disruptions to service, or other needed communication," Gowans says in a report to Mayor Provenzano and ward councillors.
"Finally, the system will have the ability to generate specialized reports and analyze accumulated data to be utilized for ongoing operational analysis."
In addition, the city is planning to install automatic passenger counters on all conventional buses to count passengers boarding or leaving each time a door opens or closes.
"This will be correlated to a route, stop and time that can used for future analysis of service needs," Gowans says.
If the purchase is approved on Monday, the new locator technology will be installed in 28 conventional buses and eleven paratransit vehicles.
The city's contract is expected to be awarded to Sweden-based Consat, which maintains Canadian offices in Sudbury and Laval, Que.
Cost of the proposed tech upgrade will be $505,000.
The city expects to recover $420,817 of that from the Invest In Canada Infrastructure Program.
Service costs will be $19,533 for the first year of operation, and $34,995 a year for years two through five.
In other transportation news, Sault-based UCAB (1972699 Ontario Inc.) is being recommended for a contract to provide wheelchair accessible and ambulatory service vehicles for a three-year period starting this month, with a possible extension for up to two more years if both parties agree. Unsuccessful bidder was Driverseat Sault Ste. Marie.
And councillors will be asked to approve a city application for $1.5 million in provincial funding to cover COVID-related pressures on Sault Transit under Phase 2 of the Safe Restart Agreement.
Monday's City Council meeting will be livestreamed on SooToday starting at 4:30 p.m.