Google Map App
There's a lot of grumbling about the new Apple iOS6 maps and there's a lot of improvement necessary to make those usable to the general public. I keep getting lost, but am more apt to try to work around the inconvenience than to complain. But someone the other day asked me if I were the CEO of Google, how would I one-up Apple's maps in a new Google Maps App.
As I thought about this situation, an overlay of the transportation (subways) would be a definite improvement. With the overlay, there could be tappable action points where the subway entrances/exits are with a little popup providing further detail as the the name of the stop and transit lines available at that location. Tapping the icon on the right of the popup would yield yet more information as to when the train lines are scheduled to arrive and depart.
This isn't a revolutionary idea as iTrans does this nicely already for select cities. However, one could use this same concept and apply it to bus lines. I am always looking for a great bus map that will give me this kind of information in an accessible manner. Google maps is probably the best as it gives directions with times. However, buses are very easy to miss and they're rare late night.
Bus information is all well and
good to meet an individual's immediate need to orient themselves and
arrive to their destinations on time, but perhaps there's a greater
purpose that these transportation maps may serve.
Buses are way more prevalent in most cities than subway and light rail systems, yet they suffer from a stigma that lower classes and minorities only use them. Since there is already information on traffic available, there might be an algorithm to work out to give you really dependable times for the riders. Say if the bus comes in 5 minutes (according to the schedule) but needs to go through 10 minutes of stop-and-go traffic then it will be at that location in 15 minutes. So by providing reliable information on public transportation by bus you could also speak to a greater good an encourage bus use across the population thereby reducing traffic and pollution in a city as well as lowering an individual's stress levels from driving.
An interesting read about this from a Conservative perspective is this interview with William Lind on grist.org. If these features are feasible, then maybe technology can change the perspective of a vast majority of Americans.