An Idea For Bus Stops: RFID Tags
RFID tags are very cheap and provide an opportunity to make timetables for buses better in several ways.
Bus stops are a funny beast, they are varied and dispersed and they sometimes move without notice. Sometimes they are just a little sign on a tree, or maybe a giant interchange. Either way, they are seriously lacking in a connection to the digital world that could make peoples lives easier.
In Sydney every bus stop has a unique number, if you log on to the internet with your smartphone and fumble your way through a website not optimized for mobile, you can eventually find the next bus coming. Or you can call a special number and type in the bus stop number and be told the next few buses.
Neither option is fun.
But I think if each bus stop had a RFID tag attached that had an embedded URL or phone number things would be 'fun'.
Apparently there are 1 million Android phones shipping a week with NFC (A form of RFID) scanning ability. Factor in the third party options available, and the impending iPhone version and that is a lot of people with the capability to scan RFID tags.
So back to bus stops. RFID tags are small, they can be passive (not powered), they are very cheap (less than $1) and they can be programmed with large amounts of information. Say for example the the exact web address (optimized for mobile naturally) of the bus stop and all the upcoming buses.
Wouldn't that be nice? You are new to town, you are in the back streets of some suburb and you miraculously find a bus stop and you just tap your phone on the sticker on the bus stop and then your phone lets you see all the buses coming in whatever app you choose. And the route. And whatever else info might be useful.
And if you wanted to take this idea a bit further, you could put active tags on the buses.
When the bus passed the passive tag it would register with a central database and then that info could be fed into apps. You could have real time location of your bus. Useful for customers and very useful for those planning routes, schedules, rosters, traffic management and so on.
There are lots of things that can be done to improve information flow and ease of use for customers, but adding RFID tags to bus stops would be very cheap to implement and be flexible enough to accommodate vast changes in phone technology and movement of bus stops.