Texting and transit

Standing around waiting for the bus as you watch your peers whiz by in warm cars can be frustrating.

The ability to find out exactly when the proletariat chariot will arrive, without wasting precious phone minutes, could ease that pain. The origins of  RouteShout lie in this realm.

RouteShout CEO Nathan Martin was tired of not knowing when the bus would come. So as a university student he developed a text messaging-based bus schedule system.

“One of the things that my CEO [Martin] had did when he was at Carnegie Mellon University was hack police scanners in order to determine the frequencies that buses operated on in order to try and figure out just when the bus would get there,” said RouteShout product marketing specialist Zack Madden.

By text messaging a number posted on the bus stop sign, you can find out when your ride will get there within 10 seconds.

“The presented mantra in transit right now is that improved communications improves ridership,” he said.

Developed in just six weeks last fall, it’s already in use in Pittsburgh and five other cities, with the company in negotiations with up to 15 more, including one as far away as Brazil.

So far Calgary is not included in these plans. Calgary Transit spokesman Doug Morgan has said that they have “spoken with several vendors” about implementing a sort of text-message based system. He emphasized the merits of the current Teleride product.

“Anyone with a phone can already access our system,” he said.

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