on the way: a trip planner for smart phones

The mission to bring DART into the 21st Century continues: A trip planner fit for your browser or your smart phone.

Staff will enter negotiations with Trapeze to develop the software for DART, after the Board of Commissioners gave its approval Tuesday night. DART has $225,000 in available state and federal grant money for the project.

DART’s current “trip planner” relies on email responses generated one at a time by DART’s customer service staff, who respond within three working days.

The new software automates the process, giving riders information within seconds. Punch in your address and your destination, and it spits back the route you need, walking directions to the nearest bus stop and schedule information.

Eventually, the software will integrate with the GPS system DART will install on its buses, such that the trip planner will include real-time information about buses’ whereabouts, not just schedules.

Assuming a contract is successfully negotiated, the project is expected to start in August and be finished and ready for riders to use in early 2011.