- Associated Press - Saturday, December 20, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Answering the question “Where’s my bus?” is no longer a guessing game for public transit riders in Fairbanks.

The Metropolitan Area Commuter System is rolling out technology upgrades this week, including a website with up-to-the-minute bus tracking.

In addition, MACS is now linked with RouteShout, a smartphone app that allows bus riders to track departure times and other bus schedule information, and Google Maps for easy trip planning.

Go to Google Maps, enter an address and click on the bus icon. It will provide directions, including walking directions and estimated walking times to and from the bus stop.

“It’s a planning tool to figure out how to get from A to B using the bus without looking at the schedules,” said Adam Barth, transportation manager for the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

The technology upgrades have been years in the making and come courtesy of a $500,000 federal grant, Barth said.

The borough coordinated with technology companies and installed GPS systems and tablets in all of the buses to make the technology upgrades happen.

Included in the upgrades are screens at the downtown transportation center and at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Wood Center with information about bus arrival and departure times. Barth said he hopes to install more of the screens -similar to what airports provide informing travelers of flight departure and arrival times - if money allows.

The bus tracking website looks a bit like a video game, showing different colored buses, depending on the route, moving around on a map.

“You can click on the bus itself,” Barth said.

That will show the bus number and how fast the bus is traveling.

The tracking site also shows the location of each bus stop and when the bus is expected to depart.

RouteShout will tell a user the nearest bus stop from any location and when the next bus is expected to arrive.

Plug an address into RouteShout and it will provide all of the nearby bus stops plus whether a bus is expected within the hour

RouteShout is a free app that can be downloaded from the Apple or Android app stores.

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Online:

Map: https://macs.fnsb.us:8080/portal/fr2/index.jsf

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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