Resource: One Bus Away

OneBus_Stop%20Number.jpgThough we all know that stepping into the street and craning our necks doesn't make the bus come any faster, I have yet to find the person who can help doing it. Especially in the midst of a chilly Seattle drizzle, waiting at the bus stop can seem to take an eternity when you don't know what to expect.

That's exactly why I'm so excited about a new web/phone app called One Bus Away.

It works like this: Use your cell phone to text the word ONEBUS and your stop number (the photo above shows where to find it) to 41411. The system responds by telling you which buses are about to arrive at that stop, and in how many minutes, based not on the posted schedule, but on the location of the actual buses en route to where you stand. (iPhone users can use their own special optimized page.)

One Bus Away was developed by UW grad student Brian Ferris. A similar app called NextBus uses Google Maps to give real-time arrival information for transit options in select cities. Though right now it only tracks the Seattle Streetcar in South Lake Union, I'm pretty sure it's only a matter of time before we'll see Metro, Sound Transit and even the ferries on its radar.

In a world of jam-packed schedules, a little information goes a long way to make the act of riding transit easier and more pleasant. We look forward to seeing what other technologies emerge from our networked city streets.

(Thanks for the tip, Bryan!)

Top photo source: One Bus Away.

Front page photo credit: flickr/leucippus, Creative Commons license.


I don't think NextBus will be coming anytime soon for Metro - it uses GPS to track buses, while Metro uses odometer reading + radio signals to track buses. When Metro switches over to GPS (they say 2010 - we'll see), I don't think they would go with NextBus, and rather would try to keep their relationships with UW and not help fund a for-profit. I would hope so at least!

Posted by: SeattleBusRider on March 7, 2009 4:57 PM

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