Sunday, May 14, 2006

Handcuffed To Pump

MTA, AKA "Metro" (Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority) just launched a new advertising campaign for those who are vitually handcuffed to a gasoline pump. In it they encourage more of these people to ride the "metro" public transit system in Los Angeles county. Thanks to John from Trans-Port+Station for the tip on this info.

[see picture to the right. click on picture to enlarge.]

In the campaign ad there is a picture of a well manicured hand handcuffed to a gasoline pump with the words "Free yourself. Go Metro."

On the MTA website you can create an itinery to get from one place to another using the public transit system.

Some people think riding the bus is kind of like being handcuffed to a bus stop pole. The passengers waiting for the bus are waiting, blindly for the next bus to come, which may be late, may have come early(it happens), broke down, or forced to detour, etc. Thus, the passengers, must wait for seeming eternities, and with a watchful eye and concentration in the roadway horizon for the glimpse of the first bus they can see. And tract this distant bus until they can determine if it is the bus they are waiting for, by seeing a bus line # desplay in the front of the bus. And sometimes those buses do not have a working bus number indicator, or they have set them incorrectly. Some people have visual impairments and can not read those signs, etc. So passengers must wait and wait, with their body and mind virtually handcuffed to the bus stop. This is especially problematic for buses with a frequency of twenty minutes or more.

In some cities, such as San Francisco, they have incorporated new technology which tracks buses on the ground using GPS, (see: Nextbus ) which is already standard equipment on all public buses, and interfaces that with software, and a publicly accessible website to give passengers access to real time information, including forecasting information, which incorporates traffic levels, detour info, ect. to predict the time it will take to arrive for the next bus at the stop of your choosing.

With this technology, which can be access using a cell phone or PDA with access to the web or through a wifi connection, to check in for this info.

There is also some software out that is kind of a hack, that allows users to have their computer, pda, or other handheld mobile internet connected device to automatically check with the server on a set interval and alarm you when the bus is within a certain number of minutes away from the stop.

Presumably this software can be set by you with the amount of minutes you will need to get to the bus or train stop, without having to just wait at the stop. This will also allow you to continue to do other things, such as having lunch, running errands, shopping, visiting the library, beach, or park, etc instead of having to wait at the bus stop.

This may be a boom for public transit safety as well. Passengers could plan waiting for the bus in a sheltered, secured area, and just a lot themselves enough time to get to the bus as they need, with accurate real time information.

According to Source at Big Blue Bus, a service like this will become available for passengers to track, in real time where Big Blue Buses are on the ground and predict, using traffic and whether data, when the bus will arrive a the bus stop you are picking it up at. This service will probably be available sometime in the end of 2006 or early 2007.

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