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Smart Bussing: Public Infrastructure Meets Ride Sharing

Use the power of real-time optimization and mapping through software to evolve bussing, responding to demand instead of pre-defined routes.

Photo of John Vargo
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The real power behind ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft is the mapping and routing software used to determine closest driver. Why can't we apply that same power to public transportation?

Imagine a subset of public busses that, instead of following predefined routes, responds to ride requests via a smartphone app or public kiosks at bus stops?

We already have the handicapped-accessible buses and public infrastructure, we simply need a combination of new hardware and software to make this work.

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

Imagine you stop at a bus stop and call for a bus, and pay for your ride right then and there. The kiosk tells you how long until the bus arrives, as it has already calculated the fastest route, including any other stops it needs to make picking up other riders or dropping off other riders on the way. The bus picks you up, and while en route another person near the path calls for a bus. The bus is automatically re-routed to pick up the other rider on the way. The rider can track the realtime status of their ride via the app or a video screen at the front of the bus. The software tracks best route (including factoring in crowdsourced traffic via partner) and can reroute due to changing traffic conditions.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Initial Design - you are still exploring the idea and have not tested it with users

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

I have no team or organization, just a tech-savvy guy with an idea. I don't envision I'm the one to be implementing this, that's why you have such great tech partners involved.

Size of your team or organization

  • I am submitting as an individual

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

I don't imagine I'd be involved in the pilot at all. Hoping the tech partners can make a run of it.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

Get a functioning system up and running with a single bus. Calculate cost-per-ride.

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Photo of Matt Beck
Team

Hi John,

I totally agree that fixed transit routes can be restrictive in their service, and don't adapt as fast as changing needs for users.

I am the CEO of a company called Squire (our submission here: https://challenges.cityoftomorrow.com/challenge/grand-rapids/propose/squire-wi-fi-enabled-comfortable-point-to-point-commuter-transit). While the backbone of our service/routes is to provide morning/evening commuter transit, we have drivers and vehicles available throughout all the other hours of the day that could be used for dynamic routing. We can bring the dynamics of ride-sharing, the benefit of carpooling, and lower cost of smaller vehicles together to deliver a service that fill rider needs.

It sounds like you are passionate about the idea, but need someone to help bring it to life. It'd be great to collaborate more on this and see what we can come up with.

Best,
Matt

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