I expected to write this months ago. Press releases from the state agency noted an autumn timeline. I waited for the event to happen as crimson, amber, and golden leaves started falling from trees. And waited some more because when you’re not in command, you have to wait.
I contacted the agency a few times via their twitter account to ask for an updated status, leaving out the missed launch timeframe and focusing on my eager attitude, but heard nothing. The new year ushered in winter temps with snow-covered tree branches and I was still waiting. I even started to wonder if the recently elected state government officials reversed a policy? When the money stops, kiss programs goodbye. My mind wandered.
At least I could dream about how my commute would change while I queued. The potential, the specter of possibility filled the passing weeks every time I took up my post at my bus stop, gazing down the street through my monocular intermittently and then stuffing my hands back into my warm pockets until my bus would appear.
Finally, the program began a few days ago: through a website on desktops or mobiles as well as a telephone infoline, my city’s local bus system offered real-time tracking of buses.
Granted, living in DC and London for short periods of time in my 20s spoiled me, all the metro train schedule statuses standard and flashing on overhead boards. Visiting Switzerland showed me what on-time meant. My expectations would need to be tempered.
Not every bus in my city has the radio signal equipment and the press releases warn that intermittent outages can occur. The agency will roll out the system in phases and there will be some potholes along the route, but at least we’re moving on the way to networked real-time data. Things have to start somewhere and the sooner problems are found the faster they can be fixed.
In the future, I hope a feature like real-time data will encourage more people to ride mass transit. Selfishly, it will mean less time of mine will be spent standing in the rain or cold or boredom. Yes please.
Do you use mass transit? Do accurate schedules and arrival estimates encourage you to use it more? How do you access schedule data? Tell me about it.