Figuring out where and when to hop on a bus just got easier for south metro riders.
Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) this week launched RouteShout, a free mobile- and smart-phone application that tells users the location of the nearest bus stop and the schedule of buses that will come by in the next two hours.
It's not real-time information yet, but it could be someday. MVTA, the transit provider for Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, Rosemount and Savage, is working on equipping its buses with GPS tracking.
"People want to be able to get this information much more on the fly than ever before," said Robin Selvig, customer service manager for MVTA. "It's going to be something that the riders will really like and something that they were just starting to ask for."
RouteShout, developed by Pittsburgh-based DeepLocal, works with GPS-enabled smart phones to pinpoint nearby bus stops on searchable maps.
There is also a website, m.routeshout.com, where people with Internet access by phone or plain old computer can search by address for nearby bus stops and schedules.
There's no cost to MVTA or the RouteShout users for the applications, which can be downloaded from iTunes or Google Marketplace.
Tim White, vice president of RouteShout, said 130 transit agencies nationwide use the application.
"People don't carry schedules around in their pockets," he said. "It's really making transit information accessible."
Although Metro Transit doesn't use RouteShout, spokesman Bob Gibbons agreed that online transit scheduling tools are gaining momentum.
The addition of NexTrip, an online and mobile scheduling tool, and an interactive map on the Metro Transit website has cut the agency's paper schedule distribution from 9 million to 5 million over the past decade, he said.
Gibbons said that people like getting the real-time information -- Metro Transit buses are already equipped with GPS tracking -- and that the new technology also "gives people more confidence that their bus is coming."
Selvig said MVTA will be watching to see how useful RouteShout is for riders and taking note of customer service calls to see whether routine route and schedule inquiries decrease.
"It's kind of cool when you're starting to be able to really take advantage of the technology," Selvig said. "We're always looking for ways to make it easier for riders to get more information."
Katie Humphrey • 952-882-9056