AMTRAN wins Chamber Technology Award
AMTRAN recently received a 2010 Technology Award from the Blair County Chamber of Commerce.
People don’t usually associate new technology with riding the bus. But with AMTRAN’s new Smart Bus system called myStop, customers just dial 944-1200 and punch in their bus stop number to find out when their bus will arrive at their stop in real-time. According to John Palko, AMTRAN Director of Staff and Customer Services, “myStop means that you don't have to worry about missing your bus or standing out in the rain or cold. You can find out when your bus is coming by phone or on the internet.”
Customers embrace technology
“Over the first five months, the new system was averaging 750 phone calls per month,” according to Eric Wolf, General Manager, “so it seemed as if our customers were beginning to embrace the technology. By September, call volume had jumped 400% to more than 3,000 calls per month.”
Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology in each bus ties into a central computer that tracks the bus against its scheduled route. Customers get real-time bus information by phone or on the internet.
Keeping the bus on time
The system also lets the driver know when they are running early or late, helping them to stay on time. Maureen Gilbert, Director of Transportation, stated, “The entire system runs more smoothly and more on time with this new technology in place.”
The Smart Bus Project also automates onboard bus stop announcements so that people with hearing disabilities can see them on a sign and people with vision disabilities can hear them announced automatically.
The Smart Bus Project was funded through a special Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) grant from Congressman Bill Shuster.
AMTRAN Board Chairman Scott Cessna stated, “We are very proud of the Smart Bus Project and of our Chamber Technology Award. But we could not have done it without a great AMTRAN team partnering with great local technology companies.”
myStop was designed by Avail Technologies in State College. Other important local partners on the project were PC Works, Morefield Communications, and ComPros, all from Blair County. Project management was provided by Clearview Strategies of Pittsburgh.