Alexandria City Council approved the use of $650,000 in state funds on Tuesday for the purchase of a real-time information system for the DASH bus fleet.
The real-time system will offer DASH riders accurate information as to the location of buses and the time buses are expected to arrive at stops.
DASH General Manager Sandy Modell said the installation of a real-time information system has proven to boost ridership in other jurisdictions, including a 5 percent increase in Chicago. A 2 percent increase in ridership could earn DASH about $80,000 more annually in fare revenue.
Real-time technology takes account of the location of the bus using GPS and traffic patterns to estimate bus arrivals. Riders can access the information on the web or through their smartphones.
“A rider can look at their smartphone and find out that their bus is running a little late and say ‘I have time to grab a cup of coffee,’” Modell said.
The system will also give DASH more accurate ridership and stop data that can currently only be recorded through on-board collection by staff or consultants. Modell said such data should help enhance system planning.
DASH is currently one of just two bus systems in the Washington region currently without a real-time information system.
DASH ridership was recorded at more than 3.7 million in 2011.