TRANSPERTH held the first in a series of Short Message Service (SMS) trials with passengers this week.About 650 people participated in the trial, which has been promoted on Transperth’s recently revamped website. Transperth marketing manager Louise Cummings said she hoped the number of participants would increase to about 1,000 through the trial period, which ends in December this year.Ms Cummings said Transperth was testing the degree to which its passengers accepted SMS as a convenient way to receive information about the company’s services. Such information could include commuter alerts of delays to services in particular areas.Circumstances surrounding a recent police siege in Yokine were an ideal example of how the SMS service could be useful, she said. The siege caused bus services in the area to be delayed, but passengers were not aware what was causing the delay or when the disruption would end. If similar events occurred in the future, SMS-registered travellers could be notified if and when services were expected to resume.Earlier this year Transperth and the Department of Industry and Technology awarded a $50,000 tender to Internet carrier Amnet for the provision of advice and support to Transperth on the development of its SMS strategy.Ms Cummings said Transperth would regularly analyse passenger responses to the trial until it concluded in December. According to the trial’s outcome, Transperth will commit to a full-scale launch of SMS messaging in 2003. The SMS service’s effectiveness will be a major consideration in Transperth’s plans to mimic the operations of the CBD’s CAT bus services, and give each bus stop in the metropolitan area a GPS code. This will allow passengers to receive ‘live’ information on when a bus is due at their stop. Such plans would also help Transperth to reduce its expenditure on timetable printing.“The trial is just really to see what the adoption of SMS will be like. But using it we can do any number of things, and ultimately where we’d like to be is that we could do away with timetables,” Ms Cummings said.
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