Rather than providing GPS data to a group of University students who have built a free bus-tracking smartphone application for Canberra commuters, the ACT Government has revealed plans to go to tender for a similar product, at a projected cost of $12.5 million.

The students, collectively known as the Imagine Team, said they were ‘stunned and amused’ when the multi-million dollar figure was revealed.

Team member Andrew Clapham told The Canberra Times that when the group approached the Government in March, they were told there was no money available for such a product.

““We offered the app for free, and were then told by TAMS that there is no money for this project, and so no possibility for paid work. We were surprised, to say the least when we read this similar project had a $12.5 million dollar price tag. I laughed out loud,” Mr Clapham said.

The team’s app, known as MyBus 2.0, is available on the Android marketplace, has been downloaded more than 1,300 times.

At present its capabilities are limited to a searchable timetable however the group met with Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS) with a view to obtaining global positioning system (GPS) data that would allow pin-point accuracy of bus stops and indeed the buses themselves, in order to provide real-time updates to passengers.

The group were advised in March this year that the data would be provided to them within three months – this has not occurred.

Whilst acknowledging that the multi-million dollar pricetag included funds that were allocated towards other aspects of real-time bus monitoring software, the group fear that a bundling all aspects of the system together in a single tender process would prevent smaller companies and groups from making a successful tender.

“We’d hate to miss out on this opportunity to help Canberra because of the project being tendered as one enormous contract for a large expensive company,” Mr Clapham said.

Minister for TAMS Simon Corbell said that the Imagine Team’s product so far was different to the proposed real-time tracking project was offering, however Mr Corbell has since tweeted that he has offered a meeting to the group, and looks forward to reaching a solution on the matter.

The overall project is scheduled to be fully implemented by 2014.

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