Designing Accurate Transit Times with Connected Digital Signage

I was waiting for the bus today with a dead phone battery, the worst position to be in. Rather than being able to check my Google Maps navigation to see when the next bus would arrive, I had to read the physical signage. A bus time sheet was posted up, but a minute had passed from the scheduled bus arrival time and I wasn’t sure if the bus had arrived early and I would be here another 15 minutes, or if it was only a minute late.

Digital signage in bus shelters

Some bus shelters have digital signs with the estimated arrival times of each bus posted up, however these are not truly accurate. They are computed based on the scheduled times on the sheet, so you run into the same flaw of ambiguity in bus arrival time.

“Due” — it better be! This sign’s info isn’t even realtime!

How could we get these digital signs to be truly accurate?

Solution: Each bus along the route should be equipped with a GPS tracker on it. Ideally, this would open up the opportunity for a virtual map that showed the active location of all transit vehicles to the public. Even if the transit authority did not want this map data to be publicly available (for security, privacy concerns, etc.) we could still accurately calculate the transit times!

Every minute, take the active location of each transit vehicle and connect with the Google Maps API. Calculate an ETA with traffic to each of the remaining stops along the route. Take that duration of time and assign it as the ETA on the digital signage board.

This solution is scalable, apart from the cost of the Internet connected sign at the bus stop. Assuming that all transit stops in 2016 could become IOT connected is a stretch.

Why is a connected digital sign better than a mobile app?

The sign will be useful to every single person at the bus stop, meanwhile the app will only be useful to the people who have already somehow discovered it and have it installed while at the stop

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