Catch up to the PAT bus schedule in real time


By Emily Ahlin / Staff Writer

If it’s 20 degrees and snowing, the bus will probably be late. The good news? Soon, bus travelers won’t have to worry abut late buses in any weather.

Last week, Port Authority added new routes to their GPS-enabled live-tracking system, accessible to users online. All 61 and 71 routes, both 54s and the 75 Ellsworth routes now include live-tracking GPS devices, according to a Sept. 11 release. The GPS devices send the buses’ locations via wireless communication to a computer server, which then turns each unique location into the time the bus will arrive at any stop along its route. 

Tracking information is available on the Port Authority’s website —  — as well as three apps not affiliated with the Port Authority: Tiramisu, Transit and Transit Times Plus, which are supported on iPhones, iPads and most other smartphones and tablets.

All bus routes will have the tracking system by the end of this calendar year, the Port Authority website shows, and Port Authority will begin work on the light-rail (T) system to the South Hills by 2015. 

Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County executive, said he expects more applications to provide real-time tracking in the future.

“In the future, riders will be able to receive alerts by text or email [as they currently can], but will also be able to find information on social media, digital station screens, audio announcements and more,” Fitzgerald said in the release.

Christine Cogley said she is excited about the changes. Cogley commutes to campus from Pittsburgh’s Allentown neighborhood. 

“What excites me most about the live tracking is that I’ll finally be able to know if a bus is running late, early, on time or if there is a detour,” Cogley, a senior and accounting and finance major, said in an email. 

According to Heather Pharo, a Port Authority spokeswoman, Port Authority has been working to implement real-time tracking for more than a year. 

“In June 2013, our Board of Directors approved the purchase of services and additional equipment needed for the project,” Pharo said in an email. 

Port Authority piloted real-time tracking on the P1 bus route in August 2013, according to Pharo. 

For Cogley, this is a step in the right direction for Port Authority.

“Being a commuter from Pittsburgh and having to take PAT buses in high school and now in college, I know the frustration of missing buses, late buses, packed buses, etc.,” Cogley said. “It’s nice to know that Pittsburgh is slowly moving towards the live tracking, when so many major cities already have such a thing.”