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Calgary Transit pilots digital signs with bus arrival times

Digital signs were once only found in sci-fi movies, but now they’re becoming common place and Calgary Transit is getting on the e-sign train.

Although they’re already at LRT stations with train arrival times, a new pilot at Chinook Station has separate signs with real time bus arrival information up for all to see.

It’s all done through the magic of GPS, according to transportation spokesman Michael Cox.

“A lot is driven by the GPS,” he said. “It’s similar to what’s used on the Calgary transit app where if you open the app it shows arrival times based on the station location.”

The four digital signs are mounted in pairs on a pole at the Chinook Station. One side shows the bus arrival times, while the other displays transit information and public service announcements.

Kimberly McConville said the new sign is a lot handier than trying to find and read the old paper schedules that were posted in the LRT station.

There was always one other option, although it wasn’t perfect.

“Before you’d have to ask a bus driver – and they don’t always know because there’s too many buses nowadays, unless it’s one that comes right behind them,” she said

McConville doesn’t have a smartphone, so the app isn’t an option for her. She relies on transit as her main way of getting around the city, so she welcomes the digital option.

“I think it’s a good idea as long as it’s working,” she said.

One side of the sign has bus arrival times, while the other shows transit news and announcements.

Cox said they realize not everyone has the app, or they may just choose not to download it. So this is one more way people can get the information they need.

He said as part of the pilot, there will also be a smaller digital sign installed on the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) station at 16 Avenue and 12 Street NW.

Those will be the first two in the pilot. Cox said they want to see how they handle a Calgary winter.

“We want to test the longevity of them. All indications are that they will hold up throughout the winter.”

If all goes well, they will be rolled out at many of the LRT stations and BRT bus stops throughout the city.