If you've ever waited in the cold, rain or dark for a bus, you understand the occasional frustration and uncertainty of taking public transit. This uncertainty is what Heinz College's Addam Hall (MSPPM '10) and Prof. Robert Hampshire set out to address.
Researching transportation-related technologies, the duo worked in conjunction with the Henry L. Hillman Foundation as part of the Traffic21 initiative, a university-wide, multi-disciplinary research initiative.
Their goal? To design, test and evaluate systems that improve regional transportation, and to pilot these systems in real-world settings, enabling the policy changes and customer buy-in necessary for effective implementation.
The initiative led to the development of a student research project, bringing together MISM and MSPPM students focused on improving transit for the 21st century. As urban areas grow in size and density, public transit plays a vital role by providing environmental benefits.
Because uncertainty is one of the largest drawbacks of using public transit, real-time information is highly valuable to riders and potential riders. Using the GPS function of Google G1 phones that were deployed on the Carnegie Mellon University Shuttle system, the project team built a tool called myRide that identifies a vehicle's location, predicts its arrival time at a future stop, and displays the information on the myRide website.
While real-time bus information systems are already in place in cities like Chicago, myRide also incorporates a Twitter feed riders can use to provide instant feedback and commentary on CMU Shuttle travel. A myRide mobile application is also in development.
The myRide team was lucky to find a great partner in the CMU Shuttle, working with the CMU Police Department, which manages the shuttle service.
Since the early-November launch, shuttle drivers have been operating the G1 units, with data transmitting successfully. Moving forward, the team is providing a framework to help myRide evolve from a pilot into a full-time system.
The experience will not only offer Carnegie Mellon students and employees useful information related to their commuting needs — but it will be a beneficial learning ground as the university partners with the Pittsburgh Port Authority and other regional organizations to help advance smart transit.
In addition to Hall, the myRide project team includes Daiying Chen (MISM '09), Lisa Hall (MISM '09), Nolan Leavitt (MSPPM '09), David Levinson (MSPPM '10), Karen Mesko (MSSPM '10), Ei Ei Min Thu (MISM '09) and Sudheer Someshwara (MISM '09). Hampshire serves as the team's advisor.