Disney Bus Transportation: Clever Devices Intelligent Transportation System (ITS)


Well-Known Member
I spoke with two bus drivers this past weekend: ST and DAK. I learned more about the music loop with the new system.

Based on my discussions with the drivers, the music loop is different with the new system in that it's not continuous like before. When the driver enters the route code into the TCH, the music loop resets according to the destination. For example, if the bus is going to OKW then OKW resort music plays. If the bus is headed to Disney's Hollywood Studios then DHS park music plays. So, in this case, the driver only hears the first 15 minutes or so of the music loop before they arrive and have to enter a new route code. Once the new code is entered, the system resets to the beginning of the music loop.

Saturday night, I asked the ST bus driver who drove me back to the Yacht Club how long the music loop was if it played all the way through. He said he thought it might be as long as three hours. But, he said it didn't matter how long the loop really is because he only hears the first ~15 minutes of it. It's a little comical until you realize how maddening it must be for the drivers to hear the same few songs repeatedly during their shift. It's only when a driver is "on visual" at the end of the night not having to enter route codes when they hear different music.
When certain sounds/noises are part of your job, it gets to a point where you don't really hear them anymore unless you're paying attention to them or something about them changes. I worked in a busy print/copy shop for 10 years and a woodcarving shop for 20...I don't really "hear" those kinds of noises unless I'm listening for them now.


New Member
The fact that the system was designed for a city really has no bearing on its deployment at WDW. The problem is the same, but the variables differ. In a city, stops might be consistently short, while the transit time (between stops) can vary widely due to traffic conditions. At WDW, the transit time will likely stay consistent while load/unload times might vary due to ECVs/passenger needs. Flexibility is built into the system-that’s what makes it different than just an old-fashioned route schedule.

The data is what makes the system smart and efficient. Without data, the system estimates what an average load time might be (average for time of day, time of year, etc.) and schedules each stop as a sort of window. In order to stay on schedule, the driver has to sit and wait for the scheduled departure time (even if the bus is loaded to capacity) and drive a predetermined speed. The only way the system can reliably predict when the bus will arrive at a stop is to know when it left the previous stop. This is what you observed during your research.

But when properly implemented, realtime GPS + guest tracking gets rid of the “window” idea and treats the problem of moving guests as a logistical one. It knows how many guests are waiting at a stop and where those guests are trying to go.

This allows buses to leave a stop when they reach capacity (or when there are no guests waiting to board). When the bus leaves a stop, the system knows when it will arrive at the next stop and can show that on the signage in real time. If the wait time for guests approaches the maximum allowable (whatever Disney determines), new buses can be deployed to that route to relieve the demand.

In this case, buses don’t necessarily need to follow the same route or stick to any certain schedule. Once the demand has been met, buses can be redeployed as needed or pulled out of service.
Another difference is that in a city, the same bus usually goes back & forth on the same route. Not the case at WDW. A bus going from AK to MK is likely to make its next trip from MK to a different resort, at least in normal times.
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