Innovations in Public Transportation Notification
Previously, the Collegian has written about the CATA bus times sign at the Pattee Library stop and also, more recently, OS has written about CATA’s InfoPoint system of bus tracking. Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t need a computer to figure out when the next Blue Loop was going to pull up to the Allen Street Gates? If you could use some type of portable or mobile device, would that be helpful?
For students at the University of Michigan, all bus tracking dreams have come true. Scott Wolchok, a Ph.D. student in Computer Science and Engineering,
…recently created UmBus, a program that allows students to check Magic Bus — an online bus tracking service — from their cell phones. By texting “umbus” to 41411, and using a few simple commands, students can find out when a bus will be arriving at a specific stop.
The ability to text and find out the bus location makes this service a lot more usable because there is not always a computer present. It’s wintertime, and people don’t want to stand outside in the cold longer than they have to.
According to Wolchok, what makes UmBus really useful is that it’s available to any text message-enabled cell phone, not just those with Internet access.
I hate to say it, but maybe Michigan did something that should be emulated? Recently, CATA has made important leaps in their notification technology. It would be nice if they made this one too.