Tuesday at the ITS World Congress, I had an opportunity to attend (and present at) sessions covering the role of mobile technology and social media in attracting new transit riders. Some highlights:
- Martha Welsh and Thijs van As, both from Google, talked about the success of Google Transit — and now Google Live Transit — and shared their ideas for the future. One scenario: You use social media to invite friends to an event. As they accept their invitations, they receive real-time customized transit directions to the venue and can share their expected arrival time with the group.
- Carol Schweiger (TranSystems) talked about her research on mobile device technology for real-time information. The takeaway — Transit agencies are beginning to rely on third-party developers to create mobile applications and are choosing to focus instead on managing their own data.
- Kari Watkins (Georgia Tech) and Brian Ferris (Google) talked about OneBusAway, the application they developed when they were graduate students at the University of Washington. Their research showed that bus countdown apps can change perceptions of transit waiting time. People without real-time information perceived their transit wait time to be longer than the actual measured time. But for riders with access to countdown information, perceived and measured wait times were roughly equivalent.
The eighteenth ITS World Congress highlights cutting edge transportation technologies from around the world.