TxDOT Unveils New Driver Information System For Ferry Crossings

Entrance ramp to the Bolivar Ferry Galveston, TX. [flickr/J.R. Ramos]
TxDOT is trying out new technology that will give drivers a better idea as to how long they'll have to wait at ferry crossings. They could soon start using that technology at the busy Bolivar Ferry at Galveston.

Transportation officials will first try out the real-time system at the Port Aransas ferry near Corpus Christi, where drivers can wait up to a couple of hours during the busy Spring Break period.

TxDOT Deputy Executive Director John Barton says the technology involves readers placed along the roadway.

Those readers detect devices in cars that are bluetooth enabled. Information goes into a computer that calculates wait times, and those times are put on message boards.

And Barton says any information picked up by the system is kept secure.

"The public doesn't want us tracking who they are and where they are, so none of this data collects any personal information and we don't store it for any length of time. We just run the calculation and then all that information is dumped."

TxDOT will test the system at Port Aransas during the upcoming Spring Break. They'll then look at bringing the technology to the Bolivar Ferry.

"We hear from them constantly that they want to have an improved information system. They're excited about the opportunity that we might be able to bring this to them soon. A lot of people use that system for medical purposes, getting to the medical facilities there in Galveston."

About eight million people every year use the Bolivar and Port Aransas ferries. Barton says if people have better information on wait times, they may decide to take another route, and that could cut down on long lines at the ferry crossings.

Bio photo of Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

Gail Delaughter joined KUHF in October 2008 as Saturday morning news anchor and host. A native of New Orleans and a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, Gail has extensive experience in Texas and Louisiana as a radio news reporter and morning show anchor and co-host...