Friday, February 17, 2006

Put GPS on buses!

Waiting a long time at a bus stop can be a major deterrent for people. There is always this feeling of uncertainty. How long will I have to wait here? Have I missed the last bus? I think the situation could be improved so much if it was possible to know exactly how long it would be until the next bus arrives. It would put you at ease. If you knew, for example, that the bus is 20 minutes away, you could go buy a cup of coffee or visit the ATM, and then come back. Or you could take out a book and start reading, knowing that there would be enough time to get into it.

I have often thought: Why can't we just put GPS receivers on the buses, have them transmit their positions back to some central system, and then make the information available online and maybe even on electronic displays at the bus stops themselves? If it was online and publicly available, people could develop 3rd party applications that would serve that data to your Palm Pilot, cell phone, or laptop. It could be integrated with Google Maps. Man, that would be awesome.

There is a company, NextBus, that appears to be doing this already for some municipalities. I am dying for their technology to come to Los Angeles. Please, please, please! I think I'm going to write a letter to Bill Rosendahl and Antonio Villaraigosa urging them to get our transit systems to implement this.

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