Valley Metro rolls out new app to track your bus

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - A phone app for tracking transportation is making its way into Roanoke City for the first time.Leaders at Valley Metro say they want riders to help test it out.

"This is the first time anything like this has been launched in the valley."

Ron Parker, Assistant General Manager at Valley Metro said he and his team are excited.

While public transportation in Roanoke has been around for a long time, it's never had the VMGo App. It's a brand new, free application for phones and tablets that Parker said is going to make getting around town a lot easier.

Phase one will be available Monday for the Smart Way bus, the Smart Way express and the Star Line Trolley.

"If you stop to drop your car off at the mechanic and you wanna catch the bus, you can make the choice to ride the bus back across town and those things will be helpful to help you make a decision as to how you use transportation," he said.

Phase Two will come in the summer of 2021, when Parker said the whole fleet will be online.

The app shows bus movements in real time. It'll predict how long it will take the bus to get to your stop. And will show traffic delays and how many people are currently riding your bus.

It's something former frequent rider Ashley Lakes said she would have loved to use.

"It would have been so helpful, because then you know you would be able to track it to see exactly what time," Lakes said. "Even if it was raining you know, it would put us behind you know, walking in the rain, so it'd really be grateful and helpful."

Also part of this rollout are new signs going up around town that will give live updates of bus travel times. They're also installing signs at stops with a code for each stop, helping riders identify their location on the app.

"It shows you throughout the city exactly the bus number that's on route and the direction of travel of the route, and when the route will arrive at your location," Parker said.

They're using existing GPS technology and putting it directly in the hands of the riders. Which they hope will not only improve but increase ridership.