Thoughts from the Bus: Absent-minded no more


(Image “Waiting for the bus” courtesy of Allan Rostron

I’ve heard that our city’s transit system won’t release its real-time GPS info to the public (yet). This is such a shame considering the amazing things citizens are doing for various levels of government – mostly free of cost – with the open data movement (e.g Vancouver’s trash day app).

Well, in hopes that this fair city will one day realize that it can boost its customer satisfaction by barely lifting a finger (let alone actually improving service), I have one suggestion for the ultimate OC Transpo app*: live notifications.

I know pop-ups are pesky, but how many times have you become engrossed in something on your phone or tablet and actually missed your bus? It’s happened to me at least 3 times in the last year (that I know of… Perhaps there were times I just didn’t look up to see the bus whizzing by) and a couple of times I’ve even been on the bus reading blogs and have missed my stop.

So I propose a functionality that allows riders to specify their common bus routes and schedules. Then, when they’re waiting for the bus or when their stop is approaching, they would receive a brief, easily dismissible notification. Of course this would be completely optional for those of us who hate being told what to do by a computer. However, I believe it’s just another great way to let computers do the worrying about mundane, everyday life while we submerse ourselves in more fascinating things.

For more perspectives on the power of open data, check out David Eaves’ blog.

* This is in addition to the would-be awesomeness of being able to look up where the buses are at any given time so that we can know just how late they’re running.

An aside: This post was composed entirely on the bus, on my iPhone, using only my thumb. It was edited later on Lappy 2.0 (a MacBook Air; Lappy 1.0 is a dead, whirring PowerBook), but still, I feel that’s quite the feat!

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