The parish bus system’s chief executive officer said Tuesday that all the kinks in the highly touted GPS bus tracking system should be worked out by the end of September.
Brian Marshall said the Capital Area Transit System has experienced some “glitches” with the system, which was installed in January, related to server issues with the company, Route Match. He described some of the problems as typical re-calibration issues for a new technology system.
His comments followed a Tuesday night CATS board meeting at which one board member chastised the staff for problems plaguing the GPS system.
“Why was money spent on a system that isn’t working like it should?” board member Montrell McCaleb asked. “Why are we having so many issues with this system?”
He complained that the system frequently breaks down and that Route Match takes too long to respond to the problems.
CATS Board Chairman Isaiah Marshall, no relation to Brian Marshall, defended the system and urged patience.
“The things we are experiencing are not uncommon” Isaiah Marshall said. “Anytime you’re dealing with new technology you have to work those things out.”
The GPS system is part of a larger technology overhaul contract with Route Match for $1.4 million. The contract is covered by federal economic stimulus dollars, but CATS incurs about $15,000 a year in operating expenses.
The bus tracking software, along with other service improvements, was promised ahead of the CATS property tax election passed by voters last April.
At the end of January, Brian Marshall and other CATS managers held a news conference to unveil the GPS system for smartphones and computers that would pinpoint the location of a bus within 15 seconds of accuracy.
However, some riders have complained that the GPS phone app, called Route Shout, is difficult to navigate and often inaccurate.
Efforts to reach Route Match for comment Tuesday evening were not successful. Company officials have previously referred questions about complaints concerning the GPS system to CATS managers.
Brian Marshall said some kinks are common to any city installing a new software component, but added that he didn’t expect the service problems to be so visible.
“We knew there would be bugs, but we didn’t know they’d be that visible to the public,” he said. “It’s being a little more visible because we’ve had server issues.”
He said Route Match was selected because it has a strong reputation with transit system technology and because it customizes products to the individual systems.
“The input people give us, we take it back to them and they’re willing to customize the system to our passengers’ needs,” Brian Marshall said.