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Dakota Center for Independent Living

New Technology Enhances Capital Area Transit (CAT)

With the utilization of RouteMatch’s hardware and software, the CAT hopes to help disseminate route and schedule information as well as streamline its data and connectivity internally. While the RouteMatch hardware and software has been in place with Bis-Man Transit’s paratransit service since this time last year, many of the features used on a fixed-route system could not be tested due to the nature of door-to-door service. An example of this is the verbal indicators for approaching or departing timing points which are only needed on the fixed-route system where riders can exit the bus anywhere along the route.

The CAT Manager, Nate Vatnsdal, estimated that it took eight to 10 hours to outfit each bus. He went on to say, “We have had to be creative with how we’ve juggled getting some of the components installed, while still keeping busses on all the routes and not sacrificing service.”

The rider’s experience on the bus isn’t the only change. A free phone app called RouteShout is available. It will put more route and schedule information than ever at the fingertips of their customers. This app allows the user to pick various timing points along the CAT routes and see when upcoming buses will be traveling by those respective routes.

Scheduled times of arrival and the estimated times of arrival will also eventually be provided through the app. The users will have the ability to save or favorite stops and routes they frequently use. If a rider is not familiar with the CAT routes, an option will also be available to simply enter their location into the app and have it search for the nearest routes and timing points. The app is available for Droid and Apple devices, but is not available for Windows-based phones.

Another useful feature is the ability for customers to find route information through texting. Someone will be able to text various timing point codes to 25252 and see the various routes that are scheduled to go by that timing point in the next hour. These texting codes will be available on signs at various timing points and can also be found on their website at www.thecatbus.com.

The new system will also be heightening service from behind the scenes. The new system will track the number of riders getting on and off each bus. The automation of some of these processes will eventually lighten the driver’s workload and allow them to focus more on the route.

For more information about this, and other services the CAT provides, you can contact staff by calling 701-258-6817. Information is also available at www.thecatbus.com.