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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Going, going…

Mike Fleury plans your trip.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 16, 2006 at 7:11 AM

The next version of Metro Transit’s Go Time is estimated to depart in… 10… months. Thank you for calling. Goodbye.

Go Time, Metro Transit’s primary means of conveying arrival and departure information to the bus-going masses, is getting an overhaul. The new system is scheduled to be up and running by September 2007.

It will be the third version of the system since Go Time made its debut in the early 1980s, back when the internet was nonexistent and cell phones were roughly the size of a six-year-old child. Catching a bus in the early ’80s must have sucked.

According to Glenn Hutt, project manager for the new version of Go Time, the changes will help Metro Transit dispatchers keep tabs on their fleet—but there will also be benefits for you, Joe or Jill Busrider.

“In the new world, our interactive voice response system”—the Go Time phone number service posted at every stop—“is going to be improved—instead of having to go through the departure information for every single bus that goes through the route, you’ll be able to input your route number and just get the information that you’re interested in.

“We’re also trying to expand the number of remote display terminals, the real-time display screens—I believe there are 14 around the city at the moment.”

There will also be changes on the web: real-time departure information will be available through the Metro Transit website, and there are plans to provide an online trip planner—although that isn’t likely to be available until January of 2008.

“We’re aiming to have most of the system implemented by the time the students arrive back in September,” says Hutt.

Always nice to be thinking of the students. (Our advice: Give ’em a bus to the airport. They’ll love you forever.)

FYI

Back in 2003, the Nova Scotia provincial government won an award. A bad award. The kind of award that you shove into the bottom drawer of your desk and never speak of again—unless you’re forced to.

The Code of Silence award, given by the Canadian Association of Journalists, awards excellence in the field of secrecy. At the time, the NS government had just raised the cost associated with freedom of information requests from $5 to $25, making Nova Scotia’s FOI fees the highest in the country. Today, the rate still stands at $25.

This week, interim Liberal leader Michel Samson proposed amendments that would return the fees to the original rate of $5, something he says would be a major symbolic gesture.

“Being known as the most secretive government is Canada isn’t something the Department of Tourism is going to incorporate into their ads anytime soon,” he says.

“Our experience has been that you make the initial request, they say there’s no problem, and then they call about a month later saying they need an extension, or that they’re not going to give you the information that they had previously committed to.”

Freedom of information requests are a means of demanding otherwise unreleased public information. In Quebec, freedom of information requests are free, an example that Nova Scotia should admire, says Samson.

“With the upcoming budget in the spring, there’s no better time for the government to reduce those fees.”

Send me free information. Email: mikef@thecoast.ca

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