Texting road trouble 'catching on' says P.E.I. Transportation Minister

A new program under which Island drivers can report road conditions to the government via text message is starting to catch on, says P.E.I. Transportation Minister Steven Myers.

The program is called BamText and allows Islanders to tell government about such things as snow plowing, potholes, or roadkill that needs to be removed — all by texting.

"So far it has been going pretty good. It is starting to catch on," Myers said.

Myers said since the service was announced a month ago, Islanders have already sent about 134 texts to government. 

"So far it has to do with snow and snow removal," Myers said. 

Myers said the system is a two-way conversation, set up so staff can respond to those who text and let them know the issues are being worked on.

Sara Fraser/CBC

"In the past I think a lot of MLA's would get a lot of calls related to 'where's the plower, it hasn't been down my road,'" Myers said.

He said the department thought it would be better to put those reports into a central location. He said the text system allows for the department to react more quickly to road issues.

For instance, Myers said a text came in about a missing stop sign and it was replaced that same afternoon.

"We would eventually get that message, but to be able to get that message in such a quick, seamless way — we were able to react and get out there and fix it right away," Myers said.

One staffer is monitoring the system and reports are responded to during normal work hours, Myers said. 

"As time goes on, and if this becomes a more increased method of communicating with us, we will have to look at manning it 24/7, particularly in the winter months," he said.

Queens County currently has the highest number of reports at 72, while but King's County has had 42. Only 20 texts have some from Prince County.

The contact numbers for each area are:

  • Kings County: 902-200-2122.
  • Queens County: 902-200-6649.
  • Prince County: 902-200-1014.

Open communication

"More than anything, I think it is important that we are very responsive to the needs of people when they use that method so that people are more encouraged to use it," Myers said. 

Myers said there are sometimes reasons why a road my not be plowed when people expect it — for instance, a plow could be broken — but it is still important to communicate with Islanders reporting issues by text and let them know what the problem is.

"It's a way for us to at least better control the angst that sometimes it causes out there when people are stuck in their driveway and not able to get on the road, that we are coming and here is a reason why we're not there yet," Myers said.

Officials said the service costs the province $3,500 a month.

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