Using public transport should be very easy to encourage more people to use it. But the services, apps and tools we have now cannot satisfy users' requirements. Data are scattered in different services and not integrated very well. Smart Bus Transport is a solution trying to make life easier for public transport users.
Taking bus should be easy
All you need to do is
- Walk to the bus stop
- Wait for the bus
- Get on the bus
- Get off the bus
- Walk to the destination
But various kinds of problems may occur in this simple flow, as described below. Smart Bus Transport is to assist users at different steps of this flow to make sure users finish it sucessfully.
Below are some scenarios cause inconveniences to users
- Typically there will be multiple choices (stop/route combinations) to use public transport to go to certain destinations. You may need to consider several factors to make the best choice and you need to use several different services and search and compare results serveral times.
- Walk distance to bus stop
- Bus's current location, how long I need to wait at the bus stop
- Trip duration/distance
- For big bus stations like Symonds St Overbridge, you need to check each sign to make sure you're waiting at the right stop.
- When waiting for the bus, you may miss it when you are busy with refreshing your Facebook page using your mobile phone.
- The driver may not stop the bus because he didn't see your signal, especially in the night. When you finally see the sign at the front of the bus, maybe it's too late to wave your hand.
Smart Bus Transport
What Smart Bus Transport trying to do is to leverage existing AT public API and iBeacons to assist public transport users. The key component of Smart Bus Transport is a mobile app (iOS app only for now). Major features of Smart Bus Transport including:
- Better journey planner - Release ready
- Check user is in the right bus stop using iBeacon - Demo only, hardware required at bus stop
- Realtime bus position update with live map - Release ready
- Bus arrival notification using iBeacon - Demo only, hardware required at bus stops
- Driver dashboard to show passengers boarding status at each stop - Demo only, hardware required for driver
- Stop arrival notification - Demo only
Smart Bus Transport system overview
iBeacon is the Apple Trademark for an indoor positioning system that Apple Inc. calls "a new class of low-powered, low-cost transmitters that can notify nearby iOS 7 devices of their presence." The technology enables an iOS device or other hardware to send push notifications to iOS devices in close proximity.
The demo iBeacon is Estimote Beacon. It costs 99 USD for 3 beacons.
Better journey planner
The mobile app uses existing journey planner and GTFS realtime API to present enough data for user to choose the best stop/route combination. The result groups different routes by stops and shows walk distance to each stop and bus's current distance to the stop. Based on these information, user can make the decision.
Check user is in the right bus stop
When user is in certain range (e.g. 1 meter) of the correct bus stop's iBeacon, the mobile app will notify the user.
Realtime bus position update
Bus's realtime position will show in the mobile app as text. A map is also provided to show bus's current position.
Bus arrival notification
Bus will also have iBeacon installed. When the mobile app detects correct bus's iBeacon is in certain range, it will notify the user to get on the bus.
In the mobile app, once the user selects a trip and want to take this trip, the mobile app will update the boarding status of current stop. The driver can know someone wants to get on at that stop and he will stop the bus.
Stop arrival notification
The mobile app will notify the user when he arrives at the stop to get off the bus. This notiifcation can be based on distance between user's current location and destination bus stop. iBeacon can also be used to increase the accuracy.