The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (Muni) began field tests last week on a new iPad app that could help better agency staff coordinate transit services across the city.
SMARTmuni was developed in 2011, with the NextBus GPS data system at its core. At a glance, Muni staff can see the locations, speed and direction of every vehicle in the fleet, along with the distance between them; the app then overlays this information with the schedule for each line.
If a problem occurs, drivers will radio the situation into the central office, which will then send out a text message alert to other Muni staff.
SMARTmuni is also expected to significantly reduce operating and maintenance costs, a bonus for the cash-strapped agency that has had to cut services several times in recent years.
At present, Muni utilizes radios, phones, a GPS tracking system and handwritten reports to manage its entire fleet of buses and streetcars. In many cases, street inspectors are posted at assorted locations with a printed schedule to ensure lines are running on time.
If the initial tests are successful, a more extensive pilot project could be launched within weeks.