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Making Boston buses sexy while reducing your wait times

Now that is one sexy looking bus…. Yes, you agree?

I attended an event with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, hosted at Microsoft’s New England Research and Development Center (NERD). The focus of the meeting was a review of the developer programs that has now been underway for a year, visiting both where the program has been and where it is going. One of the key goals is to increase bus usage, making buses sexy was the phrase used (mostly in jest to be honest).

The bus data for more than a third of all bus routes in Boston is now available for developers to build applications with. Applications ranging from simple web applications to iPhone applications to LED lights have been created and are in use by many Boston residents. In fact, when the first bus routes were released a year ago a simple application was available within the first 24 hours and a dozen applications have been created in the first year.

One of the coolest applications is from Lost In Boston coder Ben Resner. Ben is using this data and presenting it in LED displays, here seen at JP Licks, to give bus commuters real-time information about where their buses are now. In a sense, delivering on a desire to make your bus stop wherever you are now. Think about it, you no longer have to wait in the cold or in the rain, you can run your errands or just grab some ice cream while you wait for that bus. The best part, thanks to GPS hardware and some really cool software, you really do know when to expect the bus to arrive. Less waiting, getting more done (or less if that is what you want), while waiting for that bus.

By the end of the summer all bus routes will be available and I am certain developers will continue to find interesting ways of tying this real-time information with interesting mash-ups adding even more value to our lives.

I know I am looking forward to see how this evolves and, equally important, how it is rolled out across cities, states, and hopefully other countries in the future.


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