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New app tracks arrivals, delays for Greenville bus riders

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -

More than half a million people rely on Greenville's public buses each year, and now a new smart-phone app is about to make their lives easier.

Currently, the only way to track a bus requires a phone call to the GREAT bus main office, where a receptionist radio calls a bus driver and then relays the information.

Public Works Director Kevin Mulligan says they get dozens of calls like this every day, and each caller can wait up to five minutes.

"It's frustrating to be there waiting for the bus and then have to wait for them to get back on the phone," says Catasha Bridges, who rides the bus every day to work.

But that inconvenience is about to change.

This week city leaders approved a contract with NextBus, a software service that offers real-time information about bus arrivals and delays via phone, text message and Smartphone app. It even lets you watch the changing location of your bus on a digital map.  

ECU already uses it and Vidant Medical Center plans to get it soon.

"By using NextBus, the city, ECU, and Vidant – all the major transit components of the city – will all be on the same system and enable our residents one-stop-shopping," Mulligan says.

The city is paying for the new technology with a $50,000 federal transit grant. After installation, it will cost them $7,500 a year to operate.

Bridges says it's well-worth the investment for riders like her.

"There are so many people who probably don't know the bus schedule, or the routes, so a lot more people might actually use the bus now," she says.

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