Friday, January 27, 2012

Dublin's public transport leaps forward into the information age

Users of public transport in Dublin will have been delighted to see that Dublin bus have recently been putting display signs on some of their busier bus stops to tell potential travelers how long they will need to wait for the arrival of the next bus on each of the routes service this particular stop. These display systems are connected to GPS sensors on their buses so apparently the predictions for the bus arrival time is very accurate.

Unfortunately it is not feasible to put one of these fancy displays on all bus stops. However, this does not mean that people who are not lucky enough to have a display on their local bus stop cannot benefit from the GPS data because the data behind the system is also published in the form of a feed to. There are several smartphone applications that use this data, but my favorite is Next Dublin Bus, which allows you to see the expected arrival times of the next buses on each of the routes serving your favorite stops.  You don't even have to know the stop numbers when you are out and about because it uses the GPS sensor in your phone to help it draw a map of stops near to where you are at the moment. This application could be very handy if the weather turns nasty, because it will allow people go to the bus stop at the last possible moment instead of waiting for a long time in the cold and rain.

We also benefited from the recent launch of the LeapCard system which allows us to pay for our journey on any of the forms of public transport in the city with a single electronic card. I know that several cities have had this for years (e.g. London's Oyster card), but is exciting for us poor Dubliners to finally have this system which was long promised. As far as I understand, the factors delaying the launch were not technical issues, but political in-fighting between the various transport providers. In any case, I am glad that it is finally operational and seems to work very smoothly.

These technology updates are highly appropriate for Dublin, now that it has been officially declared European City of Science for 2012.

1 comment:

  1. I love the app too, saved my hide from the moody weather a few times :). Dublin was in great need for such a progress in public transport