All regular ETS buses are equipped with Smart Bus technology and provide real-time information to customers and ETS control.

Benefits of Smart Bus Technology

Smart Bus technology dramatically changes the way ETS plans and delivers service and responds to incidents. By providing real-time information directly to riders and third-party app developers, the technology also improves the city’s transit experience for those making the nearly 90 million transit trips every year. Transit users are now able to:

  • Plan trips while minimizing wait time and missed connections
  • Access real-time Trip planning and next bus departure information via
  • Use web based tools such as Google Transit to display real-time transit information

Smart Bus helps ETS to improve:

  1. Reliability. With a fleet of nearly 1,000 buses, it’s no longer possible to effectively manage incidents such as service delays and disruptions using two-way radios. The Transit Control Centre needs technology tools such as automatic vehicle location (AVL) and computer-aided dispatch (CAD) to keep service running on time.
  2. Predictability. Citizens take about 400,000 trips on ETS on a typical weekday and with over 7,300 bus stops throughout the city, new technology is needed to keep riders informed about the status of their bus in real-time.
  3. Accessibility and safety. Automated stop announcements (ASA)  let passengers know which stop is coming up and provides assistance to persons with disabilities. Enhanced security features such as automatic vehicle location and live look-in capability for camera-equipped buses, allows Transit Control to investigate and appropriately respond to unplanned events quickly and effectively.

Furthermore, the Smart Bus technology contains the necessary telecommunications and infrastructure to handle the upcoming City Council-approved electronic fare payment system, known as Smart Fare.

Project History

Smart Bus technology was first introduced to ETS in January 2011 when City Council approved the initial $3.4 million to start the project. Smart Buses provide customers with a variety of features including automated stop announcements, automated vehicle monitoring, and GPS location services. Meaning, ETS riders can track their bus in real-time. No more standing at a bus stop wondering if a bus already came or is stuck somewhere in traffic. Smart bus technology delivers up-to-the-minute bus departure information for every bus stop in the city.

During the first phase of the Smart Bus project, 45 buses were equipped with Smart Bus technology. When nine new buses were purchased in 2013, they came equipped with the technology. Since then, all new bus purchases have included Smart Bus features. 

ETS began to retrofit the rest of the fleet in 2014 using funding from the Council-approved Smart Fare project, starting with 250 buses. By December of that same year, Council approved additional funding to equip another 500 ETS buses with the technology.

The final phase included Council approving the remaining funding in December 2015 that was needed to complete Smart Bus installation on the remaining 125 buses in the fleet. 

Total project cost is $20 million. Significant portion of the project is funded by the Government of Alberta Municipal Sustainability Initiative grant.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Smart Bus?
Smart bus is a technology that allows ETS buses to send, receive and broadcast real-time information. With the addition of enhanced technology, trip information can be provided to customers in real-time. The technology also allows for improvements to accessibility, safety, and collection of data that assists transit planners when designing how transit service is delivered to citizens.
How does Smart Bus assist transit operators?
Through the onboard computer or Mobile Digital Terminal (MDT), Smart Bus can provide operators the following assistance:
  • Inform operators if they are running early, on time, or late compared to the schedule;
  • Send and receive text messages when a bus is stationary. This frees up the two-way radio for emergency use;
  • Trigger discrete alarms to ETS control if they believe they need immediate emergency assistance,
How does Smart Bus assist transit riders?

There are many ways that these tools will assist riders.  These include: 

  • Access to real-time bus departure information for each bus stop in the city, which will tell riders if their bus is running early, on-time, or late. That way, they will know exactly when to be at the bus stop.
  • automated stop announcements to notify riders of approaching stop locations.


How does Smart Bus improve operator and passenger security?
Smart Bus enables operators to communicate with Transit Control in a number of ways:
  • Activated discrete alarms to ETS control if they believe they need immediate emergency assistance.
  • Integrated Smart Bus security cameras provide transit security with a live look-in view of activities on the bus, allowing Transit Control to better assess the situation and muster appropriate resources.
  • The automated vehicle location (AVL) provides the current bus location (including the speed and direction of travel) so the appropriate resources can be dispatched to the correct location.


How does Smart Bus make ETS more reliable?
Smart Bus can help by:
  • Informing operators if they are running early, on-time, or late by enabling them to monitor their progress along a route.
  • Notifying Transit Control of routes not on schedule, allowing them to take appropriate action to keep buses as close to schedule as possible.  
  • Informing transit riders of real-time bus departures for each bus stop, enabling customers to make informed decisions and adjust their travel plans accordingly.
Is Smart Bus a leading-edge solution?

The Smart Bus is known as a proven technology. Similar technology has been in use in other cities and service providers for at least five years. For example, ETS’ Dedicated Accessible Transit Service (DATS) began using this technology in 2005. DATS has improved its efficiency and effectiveness using Mobile Digital Terminals (MDTs), automated scheduling and computer-aided dispatch. 

What are the benefits of Smart Bus for persons with disabilities?
The specific capabilities benefiting persons with disabilities include: Automated Stop Announcements - internal audio-visual announcements of an approaching bus stop, audio announcements of a bus arrival at a bus stop. Additional Smart Bus capabilities include web-based and mobile device tools that can be used by persons with disabilities to provide real-time bus arrival information.