The San Francisco Muni may not be using slide rules anymore, but its pen and paper, radio and telephone system isn’t much more evolved. That’s why the transit agency is undertaken a massive modernization program to improve performance and rider experience.

The new software, called SMARTmuni uses information automatically downloaded from GPS systems on board each of the 800 transit vehicles in San Francisco to determine where delays are, how to route busses and surface traffic around potential delays, and dispatch crews to service out-of-order vehicles rapidly. Currently, it can take as much as 10 minutes to identify and dispatch crews to broken vehicles.

Identifying delays in a scheduled service is only accomplished by placing a Muni employee at a stop with a paper schedule, wrist watch, and radio. That person then compares real-time arrival and departures to the schedule to check for spacing and punctuality.

The new system will use an iPad to instantly communicate service information to relevant employees. When protests cause a delay on one street, employees can be notified and begin re-routing other lines around the delay. When a vehicle breaks down, it can automatically ping crews to the scene. Even simple delays in arrival or departure can trigger a notification, and they can be detected by the GPSs transmitters instead of employees and clipboards.

Read the full article at the San Francisco Chronicle.