After a series of delays, Chapel Hill Transit is beginning to receive the new equipment needed to get Next Bus live bus tracking running again.
Chapel Hill Transit Director Brian Litchfield said as of last week, Chapel Hill Transit has received and installed 25 units of tracking technology from Next Bus, but it has yet to receive and install most of the remaining units.
Transit users have been without a real-time bus tracking system since 3G networks that supported Next Bus tracking were deactivated in February 2022.
“I can’t give a solid timeline as to when it will be back at this point, but the good news is, at the start of the year, we had zero units,” Litchfield said. “As of this week, we had 25. They're installed. So, we're hoping that the next 70 will be shipped soon and we'll be able to get them installed and that system back up and running.”
New modems were initially slated to arrive in 2021, but have been delayed several times. Litchfield said supply chain issues have made the last year difficult and frustrating for customers and Chapel Hill Transit as a whole.
The revamped Next Bus system will be using 5G modems, according to a Chapel Hill Transit news release.
Litchfield said even though it is bringing back Next Bus, Chapel Hill Transit is looking to replace it with a new system in the near future. He said it has finalized a contract with a new company, which uses different proprietary technology than Next Bus and will not be encounter the same issues.
“I think it's important for folks to know that there's also a new system that's going to be replacing Next Bus, hopefully, if not this spring, hopefully this summer and before students come back for the fall semester,” he said.
Carrboro Mayor Damon Seils said the absence of real-time tracking has been impacting him and other transit users, despite bus schedules being available online and in Google Maps transit directions.