Approval of GPS tracking equipment for city vehicles first step in potential change for city bus routes

Quincy city buses

Marty Stegeman, director of transit, says about 25 city buses will utilize new GPS tracking equipment that could eventually help lead to the creation of a new city bus route map. | Photo courtesy of City of Quincy

QUINCY — The Quincy City Council approved for the city to enter a three-year contract with MasTrack of Danbury, Conn., for $82,190 on GPS tracking equipment on city vehicles.

Marty Stegeman, director of transit for the city, said after Monday night’s meeting he expects to present to aldermen on Jan. 8 a proposal to “considerably change” the bus routes for the city. That proposal also would include the implementation of an app users could download on their phones allowing them to track when city buses will arrive at certain locations.

The City of Quincy’s current GPS tracking services contract with Nextraq, LLC of Atlanta expires Feb. 25. If aldermen approve the bus route changes, which Stegeman said have not yet been finalized, he believes bus riders could begin using the new GPS feature “within 30 to 60 days” of the start of MasTrack’s contract. 

The MasTrack contract covers city vehicles used at Quincy Regional Airport, as well as Central Services, utilities, planning and development, engineering and transit.  Stegeman says about 25 city buses will utilize GPS tracking.

“The (Nextraq) system does not have the ability to locate a bus for the general public,” Stegeman said after the meeting. “I can look at the buses, and my staff can look at the buses.”

The city received 18 proposals for GPS tracking and heard presentations from four. MasTrack’s bid was the third most expensive of the final four, but the GPS committee of Stegeman, Megan Meyer, John Schafer, Jeffrey Conte and Mary-Ann Ervin thought it fit the city’s needs best.

“When people are at a bus stop, they can push a button (on their phone) and say, ‘My bus is three minutes away,’ and they’ll be able to see it physically,” Stegeman told aldermen. 

Stegeman said he knew a person from Galesburg who used a similar GPS tracking system. When he saw the system on a mobile phone, and “it worked like it was supposed to work.”

“We receive calls daily from passengers on our fixed route system, asking where the buses are,” Stegeman said. “At which point we have to go into Nextraq, locate the bus and then estimate how long it’s going to be for that bus to get there.”

The city also has the option to extend the MasTrack contract for an additional three one-year periods.

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