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December 21. 2012 12:13AM

New Nashua transit software system proposed

NASHUA - Nashua's transit system, which provides rides to more than 445,000 passengers a year, is hoping to implement a new software program designed to improve its daily operations.

A proposal to spend $138,726 on software upgrades for the fleet of buses within Nashua's transit system, referred to as CityBus, was reviewed by the aldermanic finance committee on Wednesday.

Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, chairman of the committee, explained that new routes have recently been added to the transportation system, and that the recommended software improvements are a progression of the extra usage and demand.

"The upgraded software will allow Nashua Transit System to monitor all of the fleet in real time. It will allow them to make scheduling changes immediately without using the radio, as every vehicle, van and bus will be outfitted with an (electronic) tablet that relays data using cellular connections," Lozeau said in a memo.

About 20 tablets will be necessary to outfit all of the CityBus vehicles.

Critical information such as whether trips are running on time will be automatically uploaded to the dispatch center. Other data - including whether senior citizens, veterans or students are utilizing bus passes - will also be tracked, said the mayor, adding that manual data collection will no longer be necessary.

According to Lozeau, up to 60 percent of the funding used to operate the Nashua Transit System is federal money. Furthermore, the nearly $140,000 for the software upgrades will be paid with a federal grant leftover from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, she said.

"If we don't use it, some other community will," Alderman-at-Large Barbara Pressly said of the stimulus money, adding she is very supportive of the project.

"I'm really proud of our transit system. I've seen it grow over the past few years," said Pressly, adding she hopes it will eventually become compatible with neighboring communities.

The Nashua Transit System operates seven daytime fixed routes and three evening routes, traveling about 1,870 miles a day and providing rides for about 445,087 passengers a year, according to the proposal.

"I can't vote for this in good conscious," said Alderman-at-Large David Deane, describing the proposal as "awful."

He was the sole committee member in opposition. The proposal was recommended, 5-1, by the committee. The proposed contract will soon go before the full board of aldermen for a final vote.

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Kimberly Houghton may be reached at khoughton@newstote.com.


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