A group of local and international student entrepreneurs studying at Carnegie Mellon University in Australia have created a solution to one of the most asked questions in Adelaide — where's my bus?
As part of their post graduate work in information technology through the Heinz College program, students have created a live timetable that tells patrons when their buses will arrive thru their mobile phones or on the web.
The system is called Sandora and works through a GPS-enabled device on a bus, train or tram sending regular information about its location to a server. This information is then compared with the original static timetable to calculate its arrival time at a particular stop.
"Commuters can go to the website and use Sandora for free, or if they are on the go, they can use their mobile phones to find out when their public transport vehicle will arrive at a particular stop," said Phil Allan (CMU'09), a master's of information technology student.
"They will receive a text of the live timetable information and a Google Map showing the location of the vehicle," Allan explained.
A successful prototype of the service was recently tested on the Adelaide Connector bus service. The prototype uses SMS messages to send the location information for the bus. However, future versions of Sandora will send this date over a 3G network or via a URL connection.
"Sandora can also be configured to provide other information, such as interruptions to services, alternative transport services and disability access. It can also monitor school buses, track riders in the Tour Down Under as well as fleet management and taxi locations," said the project's supervisor, Associate Professor Riaz Esmailzadeh.
Allan said the system will also appeal to advertisers, providing them opportunities to display their logos on the Google Maps that accompany the live timetables. The next step, he said, is to test it extensively on a range of public transport and other vehicles.
In explaining their ultimate goal, Allan said, "Our slogan is 'Never miss your bus again.'"