Saturday, May 16, 2009

txtBus 2.0

Metlink currently provide the txtBus service.

The basic premise is that a passenger can text the bus stop number to an SMS gateway run by Metlink. The passenger then gets an SMS by return that provides the next three services to run from that bus stop.

Problem 1: the number, although easy, is not displayed on all bus stops. That means I have to remember it :(

Problem 2: the bus stop already has a static timetable showing all of the [planned] service times departing from that bus stop, this is the same information used by Metlink. The problem is that buses never actually run on time.

GoWellington buses are running a smartcard system similar to London's Oyster, Hong Kong's Octopus and Singapore's EZLink cards. The Wellington Snapper service uses GPS tracking to determine the passengers boarding bus stop and their alighting bus stop. This provides the basis for fare calculation.

It should then be possible to use this information to provide a more accurate estimated arrival time for services approaching your bus stop. If this information was then made available through the SMS gateway and supplied to customers then service actually becomes useful.

Where th QR Code fits in is that each bus stop would then have a QR Code with the bus stop number encoded in the message and the txtBus phone number encoded in the recipient. Now a passenger has two click access to real time bus service data.

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