Yuma buses adding rider conveniences
It's annoying to wait at a bus stop without any idea when the bus will show up. A pilot program starting next week aims to help bus riders never miss the bus or wait needlessly.
The Yuma County Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority (YCIPTA) is launching NextBus on Orange Route S/2A of the Yuma County Area Transit (YCAT) bus system.
The program will help riders stay on schedule and plan their travel time, explained John Andoh, YCIPTA transit director, at Monday's board of directors meeting.
Riders can get information for the next bus in real time whenever, wherever and however they want on their computer, cell phone or land line.
Passengers will be able to know when the bus will arrive at each bus stop by texting to a phone number (called catTRAX), visiting the website or reviewing the sign at the Arizona Western College bus stop.
Every bus stop has a number and can be used in the identification of obtaining NextBus information.
“If someone is in the grocery store and they know the bus will come in five minutes, they can shop for three more minutes and then come out. It's exact down to 30 seconds,” Andoh said.
Orange Route 2 serves Yuma Palms Regional Center to Fortuna-Foothills via AWC, Northern Arizona University-Yuma and University of Arizona-Yuma.
If the pilot works out, YCIPTA “intends to roll the system onto all routes,” said Andoh.
For details on how NextBus works, visit www.nextbus.com.
Another program that transit system will implement soon is the YCATPass Smart Card, which will replace paper passes. The switch over is scheduled for March 1.
The new smart card system will replace all paper passes in the 31-day, 10-ride and DayPass categories. Passengers will have the option to trade their paper pass for a YCATPass by June 30 before the paper pass expires.
“Acumen Enterprises is almost completed with the necessary upgrades to launch the YCATPass smart card system,” Andoh explained in a report to the YCIPTA board.
Acumen will install the programming on all 17 units, train staff on the use of the equipment and programming of cards.
With passengers using YCATPass, staff would be able to obtain demographic information by route, day and time daily, Andoh said.
Another trial program set to start in March targets employees and volunteers who work for Yuma Regional Medical Center and its other facilities.
Andoh has been working with the hospital to implement a transportation fee for their 2,091 employees and 484 volunteers to ride YCAT. The service would also cover hospital workers at the Foothills clinic and various facilities along 24th Street, 4th Avenue and 32nd Street.
The six-month trial agreement would allow YRMC workers to test the YCAT system. Should the arrangement prove beneficial for YRMC, the agreement would be extended, Andoh said.
YRMC will contribute funding so that its employees and volunteers can ride YCAT free and unrestricted. An YCAT sticker would be attached to the employee or volunteer ID card and would change color each six-month period.
As part of the agreement, YCIPTA will provide 500 YCAT DayPasses for distribution to patients who require transportation from YRMC facilities.
This program will be available to YRMC employees and volunteers effective March 1. The total revenue generated annually would be $30,000, if YRMC extends the agreement beyond Sept. 30.
A new program that premiered last month received high praise by riders. YCIPTA expected three bus loads of passengers for the YCAT Holiday GOAround tours Dec. 21-23, but ended up with nine bus loads that Friday, 11 on Saturday and another nine on Sunday.
Passengers were treated to the “best” holiday lights in town as well as on-board holiday music and hot beverages.
The holiday tours allowed people who normally don't ride the bus to try it out. Most of the feedback was positive, Andoh said.