The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is looking for vendors to upgrade its NextMuni arrival prediction time system. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

NextBus outage hits cities including SF, leaves riders guessing

It wasn’t just Muni, for once.

NextBus predictions, a service that gives riders in San Francisco and elsewhere a digital heads up on when their next train or bus is arriving, saw service outages this weekend from San Gabriel, California to Ames, Iowa.

Multiple public transit agencies, from AC Transit in the East Bay to the Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica, told their riders this weekend or Monday that NextBus predictions were on the fritz, leaving those dependent on public transit guessing when their next vehicle will arrive.

In San Francisco some 700,000 daily trips take place on The City’s Muni system, many of which are planned using the NextMuni prediction service, powered by NextBus software, on cell phones and on digital signage at Muni stops.

“This was a mechanical issue that NextBus had to resolve within their own operations,” confirmed Paul Rose, spokesperson for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which runs Muni.

Rose added, “It affected most, if not all, NextBus clients. Not just San Francisco. We don’t anticipate any further issues in relation to this past weekend’s issues. The NextBus tech team resolved the issue on their side of things.”

The outage comes as the SFMTA prepares to choose a new contractor to provide Muni arrival time prediction services in mid-2019, according to a report by the agency.

SEE RELATED: Muni to upgrade decades old ‘NextBus’ prediction technology

SFMTA issued a request for proposals in September for companies to introduce new Muni service prediction technology, including strengthened network connectivity, app-based elevator and escalator outage information, customer behavior data analytics and other changes.

Right now, “it’s more like 1990 [technology]” said one former transit official in a September SFMTA Board of Directors meeting.

SFMTA first piloted the bus prediction technology in 1999, and approved technology company NextBus as a contractor to provide the service in 2001, according to an SFMTA staff report.

“The system’s design has not fundamentally changed since inception,” that staff report reads.

NextBus is owned by parent company Cubic, neither of which returned requests for comment.

joe@sfexaminer.com

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