If you've ever found yourself at a Valley Transportation Agency bus stop wondering when -- or if -- the next bus will come rumbling by, your misery may soon be over.

The VTA announced last week that it'll be installing 80 electronic signs at 26 bus stops and transit centers, including those at Valley Fair, the Great Mall and various Caltrain stops. What a novel concept to let riders know when the next buses will arrive without having to decipher a bus schedule that's probably off by a few minutes anyway.

It seems like a natural feature for the mass-transit system of Silicon Valley, but it's one long overdue. This information, by the way, is already available for smartphone users at m.511.org, but not everyone has a smartphone. And I'd guess that's especially true for people who rely on the bus to get to work or school every day.

The next challenge, of course, is to keep those signs -- which will often be nestled in bus shelters -- functioning and free of graffiti tags. They're only useful if people can see them.

See the list of 26 locations at http://www.vta.org/News-and-Media/Connect-with-VTA/RealTime-Information-Signs-Coming-to-80-Bus-Stops-Systemwide.

Contact Sal Pizarro at spizarro@mercurynews.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/spizarro.



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