the benefits of having one of these signs in a Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks during rush hour.) In addition, NextBus has also launched a version of its service that supports Web-enabled cell phones, handheld computers and pagers.

It costs about $7,000 to equip a bus and $4,000 for the signs, according to Steve Feldman, general manager for NextBus. Most transit agencies usually start with a pilot project involving around 20 or more buses, according to Feldman, who pointed out that the business of bus tracking is really beginning to pop. "Theres a lot of money being pushed toward public transit," he said.

Some transit agencies are opting for a similar system that automatically announces bus stops, transfer points, intersections and places of interest. Developed by Clever Devices Inc., the system is considered especially beneficial for the sight-impaired and has been deployed in more than 10 jurisdictions, including New York City, Dallas, Boston, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

Last year, public transit expenditures reached $6.8 billion, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Part of the reason for the growing interest in public transit can be attributed to rising fuel prices. A ride on a public bus starts to look like a bargain when gas prices reach $2 per gallon.

Lou Sanders, director of research and technology at APTA, said the growing interest in bus tracking has to do with the fact that its an emerging technology that brings value to public transit systems. "Agencies are installing it because they want to do anything that will improve service reliability," he said. "This technology does that."