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Crowdsourcing bus timetabling

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Crowdsourcing bus timetabling

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There have been some interesting developments in public transport in the past year or so.  For instance, the Finnish site Kutsuplus are crowdsourcing public transport.  Whereas traditionally public transport runs along set routes, Kutsuplus operates more akin to a taxi service, but for much larger vehicles.

Here’s how it works.  You access the official Kutsuplus app on your phone, from which you can summon a Kutsuplus bus to your stop (within a 10 minute lead time).  The bus that arrives will seat at least nine people and comes with space for baby carriages and bicycles.

It’s perfectly possible to call your very own Kutsuplus, but obviously if you share the ride, you share the costs, which typically work out as a pound or so more than the old bus system, but around half the price of a taxi.  You then pick the stop you wish to get off at (also using the app), and away you go.

Of course, that represents quite a significant shift in how transport operates in a city.  There have been a number of efforts on a slightly smaller scale however.  Many of these have revolved around the scheduling services that are commonplace in many bus networks around the world, whereby bus stops are adorned with timers telling travelers when the next bus will arrive.

The Indian railways have a similar service, but their RailWisdom site aims to tap into crowd insights to make the information more accurate.  The site collects travel experiences from rail users, before collating that information to provide live, accurate information about particular stations and trains.

A similar service has launched recently in Israel.  The service, called Ototo, crowdsources real-time travel information from passengers with the aim of providing users with more intelligent suggestions for their commute.

The service comes as a mobile phone app, and takes anonymous location data from users whenever they’re using public transport.  This data is then collated together to hopefully provide accurate information on bus and train travel in an area.  So, if the bus stop says a bus may be due any minute now, but the Ototo users suggest it’s stuck in a jam, the app can then suggest quicker alternatives to users.

The service currently has around 12,000 users around the world, and it goes without saying that the more users have the app, the more useful the information becomes.  The app is free to download from the app store, and you can find out more about it via the demo video below.

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