New smartphone applications might make public transportation more attractive and manageable, says a study cited in Wired.
Giving up control of one’s own transportation to public systems can be unnerving. It might mean having to wait for delayed vehicles, dealing with confusing timetables, and finding new routes. A study that followed 18 people who gave up their vehicles for a week showed that smartphone applications make it possible to avoid a lot of the usual public transit barriers.
Applications make it possible, at low costs to the transit agencies, to give live information on when busses and subways will arrive and how full they are. They can show possible routes and even show available services, like grocery stores or banks, along the routes.
New and better applications, such as ones that give information to cyclists and carpoolers and applications that can connect different services can give the feeling of control back to the riders.
Those who use public transportation often feel more connected to their communities. Applications that support the use of public transportation can help people make daily decisions about how they get around.
What the study doesn’t address, but probably should, is how the use of mobile technology is making transit more desirable in comparison to driving alone. With a smart phone, your commute can safely become productive work or social time.