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Georgia Tech bus trial relies on Android tablets over traditional schedules

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Georgia Tech is trialling a new bus scheduling system where the vehicles move in relation to each other rather than at set times. The system uses equations to calculate the best time to send a new bus out in an attempt to prevent "bus bunching," and is designed to increase efficiency.

SF electric bus stock 1024
SF electric bus stock 1024

In an attempt to increase efficiency, Georgia Tech has trialled a new bus scheduling system where the vehicles move in relation to each other rather than at set times. This is designed to prevent "bus bunching," where several buses race to the same stop at once to catch up with unavoidable hurdles in the inflexible schedule. The system uses Android tablets with GPS that report the bus's position to a central server, which in turn uses algorithms to calculate and relay information back to the driver on how best to proceed.

The results of the system's first test were positive — average headways between buses were both shorter and more predictable, and the system also managed to automatically re-equalize the headways once a bus had been removed from its route. With positive feedback from drivers and riders alike, project lead John Bartholdi sees a possible future for the scheme in other transportation systems such as subways and airport shuttle trains.