FAQs

Here is a list of terminology and questions about the TrackABus service. If you have any further questions, please let us know!

Sites
TrackABus Public Site

This is the normal web page the traveling public use to access the live arrival times of buses. As a user you can view the live bus arrival times, bus routes, bus schedules, and bus stops in your city.

TrackABus Operator Site

As a bus operator you securely log into the TrackABus Operations Centre for your fleet. From here you can configure aspects of the TrackABus service for your routes and your bus fleet. You can access the live positions of the buses in your fleet, as well as investigate the historical routes of your buses, and further configure many other details of your operations.

Hardware
TrackABus Locator Unit

The TrackABus Locator Unit is the unit we build which typically gets installed into the head sign cabinet at the front of each bus in your fleet. The Locator Units send back “positions” or “sightings” or "gps fixes" every 5 seconds or so. These units use mobile data to send positions fixes to the TrackABus servers. Using these position fixes our servers track the positions of the buses in your fleet in real time, and this information is then shown live on all of the other related TrackABus services.

Locator Unit Installation

The Locator units are fitted to each bus in your fleet. They are typically installed in the head sign cabinet but can be installed anywhere in the bus which can receive clear mobile traffic (GPRS) and GPS signals. Our units clip into the local power supply onboard your bus via wago clips, and are very easy to install and remove. Normally, each unit can be installed in around 2 to 5 minutes.

TrackABus Fixed Screen Unit

A TrackABus Fixed Screen Unit attaches to a monitor / screen and presents arrival and departure times for buses to and from this stop. The units download live bus times via mobile data and present these arrival and departure times on the monitor screen. (These units can be configured to present interleaved advertising at the operator's discretion.)

TrackABus Mobile Screen Unit

A TrackABus Mobile Screen Unit attaches to a screen mounted inside a bus. These units download live estimated arrival times for the upcoming stops for the current route of the bus via mobile data and present these on the screen inside the bus.  (These units can be configured to present interleaved advertising at the operator's discretion.)

Operations Centre
Operator Mode vs Automatic Mode

As a bus operator, you can configure the TrackABus service to run in “Operator Mode” or “Automatic Mode”.

In “Operator Mode” you specifically configure which trips each bus will run and when it will run them via “running boards”. This gives you precise control of which buses are assigned to which routes and can be used to ensure specific operational compliance.

In “Automatic Mode” the TrackABus system intelligently tries to identify which bus is driving which route at which time and the operator does not have to make any bus assignments. Typically, if there are not too many routes overlapping at the same time, it is clear which bus is driving which route. Consequently, in this mode the system is basically self-running and does not require operator oversight.

Operator Mode

in “Operator Mode” all bus assignments are made manually via a running board. This means that each bus has a list of trips to be completed at specific times. The trips also need to be configured in such a way that no bus is scheduled to be in more than one place at the same time, i.e. the trips can logically be run in the specified order. 

For a particular bus this means the system will know which trip should be in progress at a particular time. So, when a bus is on schedule, the system knows the start location and time where the 'next' trip should begin. When a gps fix is made at the starting location of the next trip, the bus departure is recorded once it is within 2 minutes of the departure time.

Operator Mode: Trip Status

In “Operator Mode” once departure is recorded, then all “gps fixes” from that vehicle are associated with the assigned trip and can be displayed in the operations centre in real time. The trip will be marked as 'INPROGRESS' and will also be correctly displayed within the main public real time web site. Then, if the bus travels to the last stop, the trip will be completed and verified against the expected track. If the route taken differs from that configured (say a driver missed a part of the route) then the trip is marked as 'INCORRECT' and the reason for this can be investigated. Another common pattern is for the last section of the trip to not be completed by a driver under certain conditions, in this case the trip is marked as 'INCOMPLETE'.

When a bus is behind schedule if the trip that is late to start is still the 'next' trip for that bus, then the trip assignment process will still occur. If the bus's “running board” states that another trip is now logically the 'next' trip for that bus, then even if the bus runs the delayed service, it would not be assigned. That trip would be marked as 'NOTRUN'.

Reliability

Reporting can also be used to examine the overall reliability of the system. We aim to achieve around 95% to 100% accuracy. Bus drivers will occasionally drive routes slightly differently or take short cuts or detours at certain times of the day, so although we track the driven routes exactly, we will sometimes mark these route as 'INCOMPLETE' depending on tolerance thresholds.

In some other cases temporary communication issues can mean a series of sightings can be missed which may explain a 'not run' service. Communication drop outs can also sometimes occur due to poor cell site reception.

All intermediate sightings are available through the TrackABus Operations Center, so that sightings at all the stops can be reviewed against the scheduled times.