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Transportation InnerCity Trip Planner via Text Message

Send a text message to get directions for public transportation routes.
  (+6, -2)
(+6, -2)
  [vote for,

Most large metropolitan areas have multiple public transportation providers for public buses, trains, subways, ferries etc. that often don't communicate well.

The idea is to simplify bus maps and schedules by sending a text message to a dedicated city number (say 111) with the address of your destination. Assuming that one can pinpoint your location from your cell phone, they know where you are and where you are going. Then within a few seconds you would get an automated return text, something like:

1) Walk North to Bus Stop at Fulton X Elm st. 2) Take Bus #3 to Irvington Stop. 3) Transfer to Lightrail 4) Take Lightrail to Main St. Stop --Estimated Travel time 23 min.

ShawnBob, Apr 08 2010

traveline http://travelinescotland.com
national public transport journey planner as described above, but with a hideously clunky and almost unusable web based interface. [pocmloc, Apr 08 2010]

Metlink Journey Planner http://www.metlinkmelbourne.com.au/
Incredibly accurate and detailed web based journey planner for Melbourne, Australia [BunsenHoneydew, Apr 09 2010]

London text journey planner service http://www.tfl.gov....ileservices/sms.asp
Send origin and destination, receive a journey plan. [DMc, Apr 12 2010]


       This sounds like an excellent idea, if cellphone triangulation is accurate enough, and if the transport companies could integrate.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 08 2010


       I know that 911 can supposedly triangulate cell-phone signals, but I'm not sure if a single text message contains enough of a data packet to extract that info.   

       In any case, the whole idea would be to integrate all the different transportation companies. I think New York and San Francisco have ridiculous numbers of different bus lines etc. each with it's own routes that don't communicate all that well, not to mention various modes bus, train, subway, ferry.   

       It may be a great opportunity for a 3rd party to do for a nominal fee of .25c per hit or something.   

       That is probably why a lot of people don't use public transportation more...because if it's not the same trip you do day in and day out it can be a daunting experience.
ShawnBob, Apr 08 2010

       Could this be done? I'm in San Fran and you are right; I take the ferry to the bus, to take the light rail. And it can be a daunting experience, even if you do it on a regular basis, if you want to take even the slightest digression from your usual path.
blissmiss, Apr 09 2010


       I really "wish" it could...been to S.F. done that. I live in Houston now and it's not much better.   

       perhaps something like this might be possible. The only questionable aspect is locating your sending position. It seems like a really simple interface, but leave it to cities to come up with an interface horribly complicated like the afforementioned Scottish system. The neat thing about just texting an address, is that it's so simple and everyone has a phone. Texting is so ubiquitous these days. The software developer would really have to interact with the various agencies to get all those routes into some calculable form...but then again, your GPS finds directions alright, so perhaps the programming is feasible.   

       Any iphone app developers reading this? (an app would be secondarily preferable to something which could be used from any phone though)   

       I wish I were a programmer about now.
ShawnBob, Apr 09 2010

       There's partial implementation of that here (Melbourne, Australia). I can text the first five letters of any two train stations and get the next three departures, any connections i have to make, and arrival time SMSed back to me. Each bus and tram stop is numbered, and I can text to find out the next arrival. The two systems are not integrated though - ideally a text interface to the exiting metlink planner [link] would be available. If I was on a free data plan I would go to the website itself.   

       Most people don't have smartphones. I get a bit tired of every solution being "get a better phone". Text is ubiquitious and cheap. In the interests of social equity - ie, to serve those who actually depend on public transport the most - it needs to be an SMS service.
BunsenHoneydew, Apr 09 2010

       Yes Bunse, I totally agree. What is needed is something ubiquitous and simple simple simple to use.
ShawnBob, Apr 10 2010


       I (respectfully) digress on that point. I don't think SMS is obsolete technology. Chances are your smartphone can recieve text messages, but conversely text only phones can't run apps. Add to that the fact that most smarterphones have proprietary apps...meaning there would have to be an app for each specific smartphone, now and in the future.   

       I'm in favor of the lower-tech always works, Occams's razor solution.
ShawnBob, Apr 12 2010

       Baked (see link). Only thing missing is the (impossible) triangulation from SMS.
DMc, Apr 12 2010

       // I'm not just spouting off //
Yes, you are, as per usual.

       Firstly, the vast majority of phones sold worldwide are dumbphones. The arrogant assumption that a $500+ phone is the answer for everyone astounds me - and don't give us "it's on a plan" as an answer - you're still paying for the phone. Ditto for "free" data. Secondly, GPS is not needed, as you can simply enter two addresses or locations via the keypad. Thirdly, [DMc]'s [link]. QED.
BunsenHoneydew, Apr 13 2010


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