FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – BC Transit hopes new Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) technology on buses will improve customer experience and increase ridership throughout the province, and the NextRide program is coming to Fort St. John and Dawson Creek in the spring.

NextRide allows customers to see real-time bus locations along routes, giving a predicted arrival time at any selected stop. Onboard customers will have automated stop announcements to enhance comfort and convenience.

“It’s great to see the successful NextRide program being rolled out across the province. State-of-the-art technology like this will enhance the user experience, encourage more people to leave their cars at home and help rebuild transit ridership as we emerge from COVID-19,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Through BC Transit, the technology will provide data to other apps like Google Maps and the Transit App.

The technology will be installed on around 315 buses across 20 communities, starting with Cowichan Valley in January. Dawson Creek and Fort St. John will have AVL installed on buses in the spring.

The project carries a nearly $6 million price tag.

According to a release, the project is funded through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The cost is being shared with the federal government contributing 50 per cent, the province taking 40 per cent, and the final 10 per cent will be contributed by local government partners.

“Expanding the NextRide program will improve the customer experience, increase safety for riders and drivers, improve accessibility for users and provide important data for better route planning that will benefit customers across the province,” said Tim Croyle, VP Operations and Chief Operating Officer, BC Transit.

“We’re excited to introduce NextRide into new transit systems with our new partner Consat to make it more convenient to use transit, no matter where you live.”

Two installation teams will move throughout the province to install the technology on buses.