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OneBusAway: An Open Source Tool for Finding a Bus Fast
Amanda Reed, 17 Jun 10

Today is "Dump the Pump" day in the U.S. and Americans are encouraged to ride public transit instead of driving. The purpose of "Dump the Pump" day is to raise awareness for all the financial and energy-saving benefits of using public transportation -- nothing wrong with that! Increased use of public transportation is integral to bright green cities. In addition to the personal financial and energy-savings benefits of taking public transit it is also the single most effective way to cut one's personal quotient of carbon dioxide pollution. Of course, one of the biggest obstacles to people using public transportation is learning how the system works--where to go, when to go, etc. There are a few online mapping tools that can help, such as Google Transit, and here's another: OneBusAway.

OneBusAway is a Seattle-based open-source public transit mapping tool (and one example of what Jeremy Faludi called for back in 2005!) that helps you find a nearby bus stop anywhere in the city with GPS and then tells you when the next three buses are actually estimated to arrive, rather than scheduled to arrive. This is truly a great tool and is accessible in multiple interfaces, including the web, iPhones, Android phones, regular telephones, and text messaging.

While OneBusAway is currently only in use in the Seattle area, hopefully it will expand. Any worldchanging developers out there want to adapt this excellent open-source application and spread the love?

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Thank you for this post.
I'm all for using public transport but the very big problem in medium/small towns is not just finding how the system works but in knowing fully well that one cannot go and visit the near-by state park (leave alone the ones that are further off) via public transport . One can take the bus to Walmart, Marsh, and the Mall but none to the state park.

While the use of public transport or cycling (even car-pooling is no longer promoted as much) are both admirable ideas that are now being stressed, my personal grouch is that the system of public transport in the U.S is still underdeveloped - at least in the small and medium-sized towns, and the transportation system between and amongst towns.

Take the Amtrak for instance: two medium-sized university towns are not connected via the Amtrak. It simply doesn't pay (?) and there is no way of getting to the near-by university town unless one is willing to spend almost 4 and a 1/2 hours traveling by connecting buses and waiting for another hour somewhere in between. And it takes about 2 hours to drive.

I do not for one moment criticise the rising voices that urge us to use public transport or urge us to cycle to work. I strongly believe that long-term changes in behaviour involves raising or shifting the consciousness of people/individuals. So indeed it is important that we opt for public transport when and wherever it is available and not jump into our cars - but it would also be a good idea to notice some of the external reasons that prevent otherwise well-meaning people from either cycling to work or from taking the public transport system when one is living in a medium/small sized town.
Thanking you,
Shilpi Sarkar

Posted by: Shilpi on 18 Jun 10

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