Port Authority launches digital system for tracking buses, light rail trains

September 25, 2018

A Port Authority of Allegheny County bus makes a stop on Liberty Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. (PHILIP G. PAVELY | TRIBUNE-REVIEW)

Public transit riders now have cellphone access to bus and light rail schedules through a new digital initiative announced Thursday by the Port Authority of Allegheny County.

Riders can access the information through a landline, any type of cellphone with texting ability, and the Port Authority website. Information on the website, which is being redesigned, won’t be available until fall. The other features opened Wednesday.

“It’s really about providing better service and tools for riders, especially in an age where riders expect digital tools,” Port Authority spokesman Adam Brandolph said. “One of the best things about this is we know that most riders have cellphones, and it doesn’t matter if you have a smartphone or just a regular cellphone. You can get real-time information whenever you want.”

Riders can access real-time vehicle locations through text messaging. To find the information, text the Port Authority at 41411 with the message “PAAC” and a transit stop identification number posted at the stop. Users must leave a space between PAAC and the stop number.

Riders also can phone the Port Authority at 412-442-2000 to find ConnectCard balances and other information, including bus schedules and departure and arrival times. They can access the information through an automated system or speak to an employee.

“If you don’t want to talk to a person, you don’t have to. But you can if you want to,” Brandolph said.

PAT’s ACCESS riders who register a cellphone number can text the authority at 412-727-8262 with the message “ETA” to receive estimated vehicle arrivals in real time. The information is also available via the ACCESS website.

The new website will feature redesigned Trip Tools that include live vehicle tracking, a trip planner and a schedule finder in a user-friendly package.

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