Saw an interesting story this week entitled Public Transportation 2.0 by Tara Brown. She shines a light on how web technology can improve our experience with public transit and keep us informed of any alerts.
The story highlights some of the recent innovations in the Bay Area, but this must also be happening elsewhere. They are using Twitter to send text messages directly to your phone. The messages can be about delays on your train or the arrival time of the next bus. This is a great way to apply new technology to an old problem.
Now the story does not end there. Apparently another writer at this blog, Mark Pritchard, was also inspired by Tara’s story and he posted Public Transportation 2.1 as a response. He makes a very good case for small battery powered autocabs to supplement trains and buses.
On his daily commute, he could take the train into the city, but then how does he travel the last 2 plus miles to his office? It is too far to walk and a bus would double his total commuting time. So, he like most commuters just drives his own car every day. Now here is someone who wants to take public transportation, but it is just not convenient for him.
He then goes on to detail the problem of there not being enough taxis and why they don’t really fit for these short ad hoc rides. He has an idea for autocabs that works because one of these can replace many cars and solve the parking dilemma in most cities. They would nicely fill the gap in getting you to a transit hub from your point of origin and then from another transit hub to your destination.
I think Pay4Rides could also greatly benefit from a texting service. Imagine a host site that could accept ride requests and text drivers for availability. The driver could text back to accept the request and the host server could text the rider with a confirmation. Now instead of developing a fleet of battery powered autocabs, we could just employ the autos that are already on the road.
WIBNI (Wouldn’t it be nice if)?