Catch the Bus Without the Huff and Puff
University of Washington doctoral students Brian Ferris and Kari Watkins figured out how to make it easier to catch the bus in Seattle. Their free OneBusAway tool allows anyone in the area to call, text, or check online and get real-time bus arrival information for every bus stop in the city.
Their user-friendly service expands on Seattle's municipal bus-tracker, MyBus, which calculates arrival times based on how fast the buses are actually running according to info sent to the dispatchers. Ferris spent his own money to buy the domain name and the software to handle calls. The grad students are continuously adding new features, such as announcements about canceled buses during bad weather and a Google Transit mashup for the shortest route to your destination based on real-time data.
Amazingly, the students aren't getting college credit for OneBusAway, although I'm sure they'll be getting all kinds of good karma. Plus, municipalities now have open-source inspiration for improving their own notification systems. Anyone who makes taking the bus less of a chore deserves a free ride.
Photo: A bus in Seattle after December's winter storm. Credit: Katharine Moriarty.