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Lafayette working to cut bus wait times

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LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Bus riders may soon be able to use their phones to find out when a bus will arrive at their stop.

The Lafayette Transit System is working on a smartphone app that would allow riders to check the status of a bus, one of several changes underway or planned for the city-owned bus service.

"We want to make it where more people have the ability to use the system," City-Parish Transit and Parking Manager Mike Mitchell said.

The Advocate reported (http://bit.ly/1v5RQbi) the bus system is working on other ways to cut wait time at bus stops. A reworked route went into effect on Johnson Street Aug. 4 with that goal as a target.

Mitchell said city-parish staff is working in-house on the smartphone app, which would tie into a GPS tracking system already in place for city buses.

Route tracking is available online at www.ridelts.com, but Mitchell said the smartphone app, which could be available in 2015, would provide easier mobile access to route information.

"We are just trying to make it easier for passengers to see where their bus is," Mitchell said.

He also said the bus system also plans to install a display at the downtown terminal listing bus arrival times for riders. "It will give them a countdown as to when the buses arrive," Mitchell said.

In line with those proposed improvements, Lafayette Transit also is studying the possibility of offering wireless Internet service on buses.

Mitchell said the overall goal is to make bus service more attractive to riders.

He said he believes route changes that went into effect in early August will be a big help.

The old 30-minute wait time for buses along Johnston Street was too long, Mitchell said, but cutting the wait to 12 or 15 minutes could turn bus travel into a viable transportation option, especially for University of Louisiana-Lafayette students.

"If I get in my car, I can be where I want to be in 30 minutes," Mitchell said.

The university's students may soon have a greater incentive to use Lafayette's bus system.

The Lafayette City-Parish Council is expected to vote Aug. 19 on an agreement with the university that would give students, faculty and staff a free ride on city buses.

The free service is part of a proposal that would add up to five buses to ferry students between the campus and the parking lot at Cajun Field. The city buses would supplement the university's fleet of 11 buses and three shuttles.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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