CORVALLIS, Ore. — If you’re waiting for the bus but it’s running a little late, would you want to know where it’s at? Oregon State University students have created a new app for the Corvallis bus system, tracking down each bus to its exact location.
“If you’re more of a visual person and you’d like to see it on a map, you can see it there,” said Ian Davidson, who helped work on the project.
Davidson is an OSU graduate student who works with the OSU Policy Analysis Laboratory (OPAL).
“They’re always looking for ideas locally where us graduate students can have a chance to put our policy studies in action,” Davidson said.
The group looks for a public need in an area it thinks it can help and takes action. A problem students in the group indicated was not knowing the exact time the city buses would appear at their stops.
“Our research indicated that people were more likely to continue riding the bus when they have real-time data in front of them,” Davidson said.
The Corvallis Transit System (CTS) has a mobile site that allows web users to track the real-time locations of each bus. But Davidson says OPAL’s research found glitches, and bus riders said they preferred using apps as opposed to web browsers on their phones.
With the help of the OSU App Club, the team created Transport (Corvallis Transit System), a free app for iPhone and Android users that uses the GPS in each bus to track them around town.
“Here are different bus stops, and if I click on one, it will tell me, for example, that this bus has already passed,” Davidson said as he pointed to his phone. “People are busy, especially in a college town. Maybe being able to work five minutes extra because you know the bus isn’t going to be there might be a difference.”
Bus riders say they think the app will be useful.
“I think it’d be really good to have around because then if I’m running a few minutes late or behind, I’ll know if I need to catch the next bus or not,” said bus rider Ethan Maloney.
“Here, all of a sudden it tells me six minutes away,” Davidson said as he pointed to a bus tracker on his phone. “Now that’s real-time information, not just what’s posted as the time it is supposed to arrive.”
Within two weeks of launching the app, the group has seen close to 400 downloads.
“It’s great,” Davidson said. “To realize that people actually care about what we were working on and that there was in fact a real need. I mean, this is a public service. We’re not charging for the apps. So this is just our gift to the city and to the residents. It’s great that they’re appreciative of that.”
Davidson says he hopes the app will help increase the number of bus riders.
“When riders are happy when they know a bus is actually going to be there, and they’re not frustrated waiting, they’re more likely to ride,” he said. “And that’s huge.”
To download the app, iPhone users can find it by clicking here. Andoid users can find the link to the app by clicking here. Davidson asks that if users find a glitch with the app, to report it by clicking here.