Solar-Powered Bus Stop Sign Tracks Time Until Departure

A route B43 bus is on time at the Fine Arts Center stop.
A route B43 bus is on time at the Fine Arts Center stop.

A new solar-powered sign at the Fine Arts Center bus stop is helping riders by displaying the estimated time of departure for the next bus on each of the five PVTA routes that use the stop.

The sign is one of five installed as a demonstration by the PVTA across its route system and is the only one on campus.

Glenn Barrington, manager of transportation services, said the sign uses GPS information from buses and the system’s scheduling software to feed the display.

The same technology provides the tracking of all en-route buses, as well as departure times for stops, that is available online at

The new sign, which is on a post next to the bus stop shelter, is wireless and requires little power, which makes solar power practical. It displays the number of minutes until the next departure.

“If the signs prove successful, the PVTA will deploy them system-wide, probably at each sheltered stop,” Barrington said.

There are 28 sheltered stops under UMass Amherst transportation services.

In addition, UMass Amherst is installing new bus stop signs that bear numbers unique to each stop. Riders who punch that number into a smart phone app will see the status of buses on routes that use that stop.

Barrington said the installation of about 300 new signs has begun and is expected to be completed by the end of summer 2017.