If you want to know where your bus is these days, you can text it.
In recent weeks all city and Kansas University buses have been equipped with GPS devices to track their movements. Riders wanting to check on the location of a bus can use any phone with text messaging capabilities to find out. The technology is meant to minimize the wait time at bus stops for riders.
Similar systems have become common in transit systems around the country. "It's really becoming an expectation among people who are relying on public transit," said Danny Kaiser, assistant director of KU Parking and Transit.
"People don't want to just walk outside based on what the schedule book says," he said. "Now you don't have to stand outside as long in the cold."
The new system — dubbed "Where's My Bus?" — has been operable for a few weeks, but Kaiser said the KU and city transit systems wanted to work out bugs before releasing the technology for public use.
To find a bus, riders enter the bus stop number into a text message and send it to 785-312-2414. For a stop on multiple routes, riders must enter a comma after the stop number, followed by the route number. After sending the message riders should receive a text back with the wait time, based on the bus' current location.
Those wait times are estimates, which can become more or less accurate depending on the position of the bus. "The further a bus is away, the more opportunities for the bus to change its on-time performance," Kaiser said. That's why he and the Lawrence Transit System still advise riders to arrive at their stops at least a few minutes early.
The service requires no signing up and doesn't cost anything outside of charges for text messages in an individual's phone plan.
MV Transportation, which services the city and KU's transit systems and recently signed another five-year contract with each, owns the technology.