It just started one night on my way back from Atlanta’s Music Midtown event. 10th Street was closed to traffic, and MARTA posted plastic holders at three bus stops with a sheet inside telling riders about bus deviations. The plastic holders were not removed immediately after the street was reopened, so that was my opportunity to try something bold. In startups, this would be the minimum viable product (MVP).
I created a timetable, with QR code access to real-time arrivals, and placed it in the plastic holder, and voilà, here is my first TimelyTrip sign! Also, I created a Facebook page and posted a picture of the feat.
TimelyTrip signs address very simple issues. With signs that just say “MARTA Bus Stop”, most stops lack the most basic information: destinations, route numbers, and not least, time. Buses remain a mystery for most without that basic information obviously displayed.
Around the same time, MARTA and IOBY announced “Trick Out My Trip”, a citizen-driven, crowdfunded bus stop improvement challenge. I submitted the concept to IOBY, and to my surprise, they accepted it! Initial contact with MARTA has also been very encouraging.
So, this week (Oct. 20-23), I am fundraising to expand TimelyTrip signs to around 20 popular intersections (see map below). My budget is modest and is around $530 (Well, that’s $10+ per bus stop). IOBY will do a one-day public challenge on October 23 (Thursday) and donation links will be provided then. IOBY will also match donations. Pending funding availability, implementation is slated for mid November (final IOBY completion date is Nov. 25 – just before Thanksgiving).
Unlike timetables found at MARTA shelters and CCT stops that show departure times at a few “timepoints” along each bus route, TimelyTrip introduces two key useful improvements:
- Combined timetables by destination for a particular stop.
- Guessing arrival times at a stop between time points is no longer necessary.
- If multiple routes have the same final destination, no need to consult multiple timetables. All departure times are combined into a single sheet.
- QR codes for smartphone users to access real-time arrivals for a particular stop.
- Real-time arrivals complement timetables.
- It is typically faster and fewer actions are needed to access real-time arrivals using the QR code than via a smartphone app.
Of course, one different TimelyTrip sign has to be printed for each bus stop.
Updates will be posted to the TimelyTrip Facebook page. Crowdsourcing of bus stop signage has been tried in Brasil, and volunteers have set up ad-hoc city signage around the U.S., so why not combine those two initiatives here?
In conclusion, I am excited to see how fundraising goes and look forward to posting TimelyTrip signs around Atlanta, and hopefully this will help make MARTA buses easier to discover! Make a donation today.
Note from MARTA – We have officially launched our TOMT campaign as well. To make a tax-deductible contribution, visit http://bit.ly/iobyMARTA. All donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar by Transit Center.