Thursday, June 5, 2008

NextBus: The Future Already Exists!

A few months ago while waiting for the bus, I analyzed all the deterrents for people like me who have cars but are committed to mass transit and are using trains and buses more. Trains run on a reasonably reliable schedule, but buses seem much less predictable, since traffic is such a huge variable. It's incredibly stressful to walk a mile to the #9 bus stop and then not know how long I'll be waiting. Since there are only 2 an hour midday, I could possibly have just missed one; that means 29 minutes of standing and waiting. And of course if one knew that, than it would have been worth running the last block to make the earlier one. Or driven and parked. All these frustrating, non-productive thoughts run through one's mind while standing at a bus stop!
I thought back to one of the nicest aspects of the fabulous DC metro, the LED signs that post when the next train is coming. Having this info lets you focus on something else, or just zone out. How nice would it be to be able to access info about your bus? I mentally constructed a GPS system where each bus stop could have an assigned, posted code and perhaps the rider could dial a number through a cell and find out how long it would be, or a little bus route would pop up (if you have internet access) and show you where along the route the buses are. Even nicer would be if there was a display at the bus stop with that info, but hey - that seems like too much to even fantasize about, given how underfunded our transit system is. I even fired off a letter to the Mayor's transportation czar. Haven't heard back yet....
Well, guess what! This system exists already and is called NextBus . It is already functioning in a number of enabled cities. You can read all about it at their site, so lobby your city to sign on!
Hat tip to PlanetGreen for spreading the word.

1 comment:

JenLF said...

My husband is going to be so disappointed. He was sure when he had this idea a year or so ago that it was totally unique!

I'm going to send an e-mail right away to the MBTA. We really need that here in Boston!