Many of us are familiar with current transportation technologies like Uber and Lyft: download an application, enter your credit card information, find drivers, wait a few minutes, and get picked up. But what if you could pay much less and reap similar benefits by taking the bus?
According to Dr. Sean Barbeau, you can.
Barbeau is Principal Mobile Software Architect at USF’s Center for Urban Transportation Research, and is a developer of the OneBusAway application. Barbeau elaborated on some of the benefits riders get from the app: “Research shows that people feel better taking the bus when they have more information—for instance, it can seem scary—taking the bus at night. But if people know they’re only going to wait five minutes, they feel safer. They’re not dreading the wait time.”
OneBusAway provides real-time transit information. An interactive map displays bus stops and routes and lets users know exactly when buses will arrive. The app describes the features of each bus stop and stores recent routes and favorite stops. Research suggests that using the app lowers the learning curve for new riders, reduces wait time, and increases ridership.
The app also works for businesses. In Seattle, where OneBusAway was first developed at University of Washington, some businesses use the app to display bus arrivals and departure times, keeping customers around longer. “This isn’t yet a reality in Tampa, but the potential is there,” Barbeau says. “All a business owner needs to do is set up an internet-connected TV – even just using a cheap device like a Chromecast – and they can show their customers when the bus is going to arrive.”
OneBusAway is an open source project and is available for nearly any platform: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows 8 & 10, Amazon Fire Phone, Google Glass, Mobile web, and text messaging. Riders can also access the system by phone. The Amazon Alexa platform is currently under development for devices like the Amazon Echo. USF is also working on a Travel Assistant feature to help riders know when to get off the bus, a promising benefit to people traveling with disabilities, older and younger populations, and, really, just about any of us.
Click here to download OneBusAway to your device.