Text a Bus

One of the inherent problems with buses (in the UK anyway) is that they seem to arrive pretty randomly. This has even developed into a truism that you spend hours waiting for the bus, only for 5 to arrive at the same time. This makes it pretty hard to plan any kind of journey.

Contrast that to the Underground or train and you usually have more reliable timetables, or perhaps more accurately, you can at least see how late your train is going to be via a display board of some kind. Knowing how late you’re going to be has a slight advantage over having no idea whatsoever.

In fairness to the bus companies, it’s a lot harder to stick to a timetable when you have to take into account the prevailing traffic. And to equip every single bus stop with electronic real-time signage would cost an awful lot of money.

So I’ve always been a train/tube person, although I am informed that buses work pretty well too. But if I lived up in West Yorkshire, maybe I would have been persuaded to change my mind by now.

yournextbus was launched just over 2 years ago and allows people to sms to find out when their next bus is arriving. There is also a wap service as an alternative.

But are people using it? Yes, with 2 million sms received to date. Furthermore, the first million took about 18 months and the second only 9 months. If they go on like that they’ll be able to hang out in The Valley, name dropping about Steve, Sergey, Larry and Bill and showing off their classic hockey stick growth curve.

A further million hits have been received on their wapsite, although I thought we stopped talking hits back in ’96 or so. Anyway, quite a lot of usage then.

So a triumph for a relatively low tech and low cost service and since 13% of people claim to use buses more often, one with a proven ROI.

The question remains that if it’s this successful, why doesn’t every bus company offer the service? It seems negligent not to.

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