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'Pop-Up' Bus Service Learns Boston Riders' Rhythms, Creates Routes Accordingly 51

moglito (1355533) writes with this story about a new take on bus service in Boston, as reported by the New York Times: 'This new-old method of transport has comfortable seats and Wi-Fi. But its real innovation is in its routing. It is a "pop up" bus service, with routes dictated by millions of bits of data that show where people are and where they need to go. The private service uses chartered buses and is run by a start-up technology company called Bridj.' 'Bridj collects millions of bits of data about people's commutes from Google Earth, Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, LinkedIn, the census, municipal records and other sources. "We crunch these millions and millions of data points through a number of algorithms that are existing, or that we're refining, to tell us where people are living and working," Mr. George said. "And through our special sauce, we're able to determine how a city moves."'
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'Pop-Up' Bus Service Learns Boston Riders' Rhythms, Creates Routes Accordingly

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  • by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Friday June 06, 2014 @07:44PM (#47184137) Homepage

    Won't get fooled again. Um this is what bus planners have always done with the best available data, in setting routes.

    Sure, but if a bus got me close enough to my commute pattern that it was more comfortable than driving (and all that entails: driving in traffic, finding parking, keeping my car maintained, paying for gas), then I'd be very interested.

    Of course, with increased flexibility, I could find myself not on their route next month or next year due to residence moves, job changes, or office re-locations.

  • by ehud42 ( 314607 ) on Friday June 06, 2014 @09:13PM (#47184511) Homepage

    this is what bus planners have always done with the best available data, in setting routes.

    And therein lies the rub. Well that at and just general bureaucratic inertia. In our city, route changes tend not to keep up with road construction, destination changes, etc. We have major roads that are full of cars during rush hour, but hardly any buses and empty buses touring residential areas.

    An example of an empty major road is Kenaston Blvd & Bishop Grandin Blvd [winnipegtransit.com] (Note: Zoom in on the map - there's lots of route "close by"). Not a single bus route travels that stretch and yet this road is one of our "inner perimeters" where 42,000 vehicles drive it every day [winnipeg.ca] (PDF warning).

    Another example is our 98 [winnipegtransit.com] and 82 [winnipegtransit.com]. These are "feeder" routes. They collect residents and bring them to major routes where they can go downtown. However, if you live on one side of the river and wish to go to a business or school on the other side of the river, you need to take BOTH buses which only run every 1/2 hour. It would seem to me that the logical thing to do would be to combine them into a single loop. That way you aren't stuck in -30C weather waiting 29 minutes for your transfer because the first bus was running late.

  • Unusual Routes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Friday June 06, 2014 @11:07PM (#47184941)
    The very reason that many people own cars has to do with unusual routes and unusual hours. For example some bus routes shut down at 6PM. That doesn't seem like a big problem until your job insists that overtime be worked and you don't leave work until 7 PM.. And you can not assume that a taxi will be available either as drivers prefer certain routes and certain passengers. So now you are stranded, perhaps in an industrial area or an area with no sidewalks and you are actually in danger. I have seen times when even in a severe emergency one could not get a cop for 45 minutes. If the public is ever to trust bus services they need to keep running 24/7/365 with very short wait times as well as backup buses in case one stalls or gets a flat tire.

"In matrimony, to hesitate is sometimes to be saved." -- Butler