After what Chapel Hill Transit director Brian Litchfield called a "frustrating" year, people in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area can once again track the buses in the local transit system.
The GPS routing information for transit users returned on March 13 while UNC students were on Spring Break, according to a press release from the Town of Chapel Hill. Tracking on apps like TransLoc, which gets real-time information from NextBus, will now work for customers.
The last time CHT passengers had access to real-time bus tracking services was February 2022. The original announcement from the Town estimated the deactivation would last around four months.
The tracking systems receive tracking and GPS information through AT&T’s 3G service. When AT&T discontinued these networks, the 3G modems stopped sending bus location data to tracking apps.
After delays in shipments and other setbacks, the buses now have 5G modems.
Litchfield said the delays in bus tracking services put the Town in a difficult situation.
“It’s also a proprietary component, so it wasn’t something where we were able to go to Amazon.com or to Best Buy and just purchase,” he said.
Litchfield said NextBus is one of the most common tracking systems and provides real-time information about bus locations, routes and wait times.
The system has only provided scheduling information, not geographical data, while tracking has been down. Transit users had to rely on schedules that could have unpredictable and unexpected delays, he said.