Clean Transport

Published on June 9th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro


Pop-up Bus Service Crowdsources Data For Better Routes

June 9th, 2014 by  


Public transportation has grown in popularity on the heels of higher gas prices, but the technology revolution can leave some bus riders wanting. A private Boston-area bus service is collecting data to deliver better bus routes, bringing transit and technology together at last.

Boston has the third-highest concentration of households without cars, after New York and Washington D.C., and the battle for transit riders dollars has never been hotter. The latest competitor is pop-up bus service called Bridj, and it is using data gleaned from Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, Google Earth, and other services to optimize bus routes, reports the New York Times.

The algorithims, designed in part by 23-year old founder Matthew George, seeks to save riders time and frustration in dealing with Boston’s crammed T subway service or slow buses. For $6 (compared to the $2 for a standard Boston bus), passengers ride in relative comfort, enjoying features like WiFi, and the algorithm technology improves routes regularly. The goal is to get riders as close to their destination as possible, something traditional bus services have been unable to do.

George already helped develop a similar bus service, called BreakShuttle, which takes college students get back home during school breaks. That service will expand for 40 colleges in the fall, while Bridj has drawn the attention of early investors in other tech-heavy services like ZipCar. Make no mistake, Bridj is a luxury transportation service, tripling the daily cost of travel…though it’s still way cheaper than owning a car.

Can private transportation options improve public transit? Or are we entering an era of have and have-nots when it comes to commuting?

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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • SteveG

    Transit can probably compete, but doing so while carrying the growing burden of employees (and their costly retirement benefits) will be difficult.

    One possible solution is driverless trains and busses. The long term costs would be far lower relative to the cost transit with humans at the wheel.

    The political opposition will be fierce, but the technology exists and a few systems (eg BART and several airport trains) are already in place.

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