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Next Bus SMS goes real-time

Your Next Bus texts are now in real-time!

Text "help" to 33333 and receive the following text.

Texting your favourite five-digit bus stop locator number (printed on the bus stop sign) to 33333 has become a ritual for many of us in Metro Vancouver. Since its inception in 2007, Next Bus Short Message Service (SMS) has been heavily used. To date, there have been 50 million requests for information, and we currently average about 60,000 requests each day.

Today marks a significant change in the information you’ll receive on your mobile device through SMS. Following the official launch of real-time transit information via (part of roughly two months ago, real-time info is now provided in the SMS text messages you receive.

As with the web version of Next Bus, the predicted departure time of buses is updated at least every two minutes to keep riders informed of when they should be at their bus stop. Unlike the web version of Next Bus, Next Bus SMS doesn’t require a cellular dataplan to access information. We don’t charge the user for text messages so, depending on the cell phone plan provided by your cell phone carrier, Next Bus SMS may have no incremental cost to use. Next Bus SMS can also be accessed on any cellular phone that is text enabled, so you don’t need a smartphone to access the information. Although most of the information you’ll be provided with will be in real-time, there will be the occasional scheduled time provided. Scheduled departure times are demarcated with an asterisk (*) next to them. When the information is available, we will also indicate canceled buses with a “C”. For example,  [4] 2:50pC would indicate a bus that was scheduled to depart at 2:50 but has been cancelled.


Another feature of Next Bus SMS that I haven’t mentioned is texting the word “help” to 33333. If you do this, you’ll get a short help description of the service (see example on the right).

Try it out, and let us know what you think!




  • By Nick, June 21, 2012 @ 2:03 pm

    Cool, I’m looking forward to trying this out.

  • By Tim Choi, June 21, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

    I noticed the asterisks next to my 33333 query today, and thought this might be it! Turns out it is! Been waiting for this for a long time. Thank you so much to the team!

  • By Arjun CMBC, June 21, 2012 @ 4:06 pm

    I’m happy that real-time data is finally happening on Next Bus! I’ve got lots of friends who use Next Bus, and for years they’ve been asking me* when the data would be live. I’ve always told them we had the capability ever since our Init radio systems were installed, but it was waiting for the integration project to happen. Yay!

    *I’m a CMBC employee

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, June 25, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

    Glad you’re all enjoying it :) It’s nice to be the bearer of good news!

  • By Fearghal King, June 27, 2012 @ 11:23 am

    Does this SMS service work for people who are on the chat-r network? My texts don’t seem to be sending at the moment.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, June 27, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

    Fearghal: I’m told that a lot of the smaller carriers don’t allow for “short-code” texts—or they do, but only specific short codes and we’re not on the list. Unfortunately, that issue is in the hands of your cellphone service provider—so if you’d like that functionality to exist, contact chat-r and ask for it! The more customers that request it, the more likely the carrier will be to change their policy.

    Sorry about that. If your cellphone is web-enabled, you can also try our Next Bus mobile site at too.

  • By Lucas Leung, June 30, 2012 @ 9:15 am

    Hi I’m with telus but everytime i text 33333 i get this message back “Stop number not valid, please check number and try again” then they do the ads.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, June 30, 2012 @ 9:21 am

    Hi Lucas: It sounds like you need to make sure that you’re texting the bus stop # (60980 for example) you’re wanting information about to the recipient – 33333 (TransLink). Let me know if that works for you.

  • By Jay, July 5, 2012 @ 9:41 am

    Next Bus short code 33333 does not work on Chatr network :(
    Is there an alternative number?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, July 5, 2012 @ 1:13 pm

    Jay: see the comment above in response to Fearghal for full details on chatr + Next Bus. Sadly we don’t have an alternative number, as most carriers do accept the shortcode!

  • By Steph, July 10, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

    Looks like PetroCan mobility doesn’t support the short code anymore either. I know it worked a year ago, but now whenever I try to send a message to 33333, the message fails – I’ve tried a few times over the last several months with no luck. I guess their policy must have changed…

    Too bad that I can’t use this service, because I also don’t have web access on my phone.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, July 24, 2012 @ 3:49 pm

    Steph: That’s sad to hear. I hope PetroCan brings it back!

  • By Wendy, January 7, 2013 @ 11:23 pm

    I’m with Telus & have been happily texting 33333 since last May 2012. As of Jan 2013 it no longer works. Does anybody know if Telus is no longer supporting this short code? Frustrated as I use it daily for work.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, January 8, 2013 @ 8:57 am

    Hi Wendy,

    Our customer service people tell me that there have been some recent problems with Telus/Koodo SMS service and those two providers are working on the problem. Let’s hope they do it soon!

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, January 8, 2013 @ 9:07 am

    Hi again Wendy,

    You’ll want to contact Telus directly to ask them about this issue. Good luck!

  • By Sam, August 15, 2013 @ 7:27 am

    Is it actually free or does it cost like 10 cents

  • By Arjun CMBC, August 15, 2013 @ 7:19 pm

    Sam, it is not a “premium text” service, so the cost is the same as if you were to send a text to a friend’s cell phone.

    I pay Rogers for unlimited texts, and there is no additional charge for texting Next Bus. However, if I was not paying Rogers for unlimited texting, it would cost 10-15 cents.

  • By Cecilia, February 3, 2014 @ 2:20 am

    I’ve been using the system since last year, but up until 2 days ago I haven’t received any text for the bus even if I try texting the stop numbers multiple times. I don’t know what to do as I use this daily for work. I’m with Mobilicity if that helps.

  • By Stella, September 9, 2014 @ 3:30 pm

    It seems that it does not work for koodo !!!

  • By jessica, September 7, 2016 @ 6:39 pm

    this seems entirely inefficient for stops where I could take different busses to get to my location and a waste of time for bus routes with only 1 bus. it is not a great system for people who are not great at using phones and I loathe hash tags more than anything. will definitely be using transit less.

  • By Gerald Harper, November 27, 2017 @ 2:26 pm

    Seems as though I have been charged to text via Freedom Mobile. Seems strange as my plan has unlimited texting.

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » The July 2012 Buzzer is ready to read and colour! — July 6, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

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