A new app by Carnegie Mellon researchers Anthony Tomasic and John Zimmerman in conjunction with the University of Buffalo, allows bus riders to track their current location while riding the bus and, in turn, share this information with people who are still waiting, thereby creating a more complete map and schedule of bus routes and times. The app, Tiramisu, is free but, sadly, it only works in Pittsburgh right now.
The app requires that the rider activate the tracker in order to see when the next bus is due to arrive as well as its current “fullness” which can be registered by riders. When he or she boards, the app sends the bus’ location to the main server so other riders can tell where that particular bus is and when it will arrive. Obviously this requires the riders to actually care about their fellow humans, so the utility is therefore limited.
Presumably this same data can be used by the city or county transit authorities to improve travel times and inform riders of slow busses. It allows cash-strapped transit systems to add GPS functionality to their lines, even if it’s crowd-sourced.
“While better funded transit systems, such as those in Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco, can afford to make GPS-based information available to riders in real-time, the Allegheny County system is under tremendous budget pressure,” Steinfeld said. “Under such circumstances, a free, crowdsourced system such as Tiramisu offers an important alternative.”
Google, IBM, and CMU’s Traffic21 initiative, among others, all sponsored the project.
So whether you’re a mother with your kids or a guy with his date, this app could, potentially prevent you from getting mad and/or late.