WaitLess Bus Tracking System


Bus systems on campus can often be frustrating. You’re standing at the stop waiting and you don’t know if it would just be faster to walk. If you have a WaitLess tracking system at your stop, you can see exactly where the bus is and make that decision much easier. The unit is self contained, solar, and equipped with wireless internet. With an Arduino at it’s core, it displays the current location of the bus by lighting an LED on a map. You can see a video of it in action after the break.


32 thoughts on “WaitLess Bus Tracking System

  1. Pretty interesting, but I’d be worried about theives and vandals if I were considering these for my bus route.

    We had to replace bus-stop signs sixty times last year. We only have 45 stops in the entire community. We stopped replacing wooden benches 10 years ago, as they were frequently visited by firemen.

  2. this is a great project with standard modules. it doesn’t get simpler than that! I love how they went with cheap and simple LEDs than a large, expensive, power hungry LCD. i wonder how it would hold up under rain though. they’ve got a sealed box, but i didn’t see a boot over the toggle switch and that wifi antenna doesn’t look like it’ll be good outside. IP67 box and a IP60 holes. ;)

  3. In Stockholm we have had tracking for the central bus-routes, but instead of tracking the location on a map, the bus-stops have a LED-sign up on top (so that is’s visible from a long way and away from vandals) that shows the wait time for the next bus.

    Sure, this is much nicer, but without good knowledge about the traffic I can’t guess when the buss accually will be at my stop.

  4. I like it for two reasons. Being able to wait less, obviously, and for showing the actual routes and stops of the bus on a map.
    Around here it’s practically impossible to know where your bus is going apart from it’s final destination unless you use it every day. Add markings to show what the fares are and it’s perfect.

  5. I prefer the system we already have – a big lcd clearly stating that the next bus/tram will arrive in 5 minutes or whatever. I don’t know how it works, but I don’t remember it ever being wrong.

    Much better in my opinion than a blinking led as you then have to guess how long till the bus actually arrives.

  6. @ nicks & zach

    The online transit tracking has helped me so much at AU. It would be nice though if they expanded the service to a small ticker or something at the main transit hub.

    War Eagle

  7. The city of Portland, OR has implemented this on a massive scale. Each of the 10000 bus, light rail, and streetcar stops has a unique stop ID number.

    You call an 800 number or visit the website and enter the stop ID number, and Transit Tracker will give you a real-time list of upcoming arrivals, e.g. “Line 56 arriving in 3 minutes, line 12 arriving in 8 minutes.”

    There’s also an API for the transit info, so I have an app on my android phone that allows me to set alarms when the bus I want is approaching the stop outside my apartment. No more ‘just missed it’

    It’s an awesome system, it makes public transit as convenient as driving.

  8. the tech trolley is just absolutely worthless

    hell, the whole ga tech bus system needs an operation overhaul

    now that im done with that, the only problem i see is that if the bus route changes, that necessitates a completely new led pat

  9. @aficionado

    Still, it’s probably a lot cheaper to replace a couple handfuls of LEDs when the route is updated than to replace an LCD display when it’s sabotaged.

  10. I’m one of the designers in the group. To address a couple of the comments which I appreciate a lot, the system costs less than $400 to make, therfore, if it had to be replaced due to vandals, it wouldn’t be a huge deal. Especially since GT transportation is buying $45,000 worth of LCD displays for the stops next semester.

    The current LCD displays on campus that give predictions in minutes are NEVER correct, and cost $3600 each and require hardwired power and internet. If they are vandalized, that is a much larger cost to replace it.

    This was the inspiration behind the project, to make it cheap with no wires and to not give some vague amount of supposed minutes to wait which is NEVER correct, but rather to show where it is so you know whether you want to wait or not.

    Also, it is waterproof, as proved in the video! It can be mounted anywhere near the stop, up high out of reach. Also, the solar panel can be mounted on structures nearby or whatever, it doesn’t have to be in reach of the display either. For prototyping, it was just all put on one pole.

    And a couple of the changes we plan to make, we are in the process of getting a metal box which is thinner and more durable. Also, we are going to use surface mount LEDs.

  11. I’m at auburn as well.

    Our transit locator is actually very nice. They have started installing large 50″ screen in some of the major building for the express purpose of displaying bus locations. On top of that, the web client and the mobile client both work very well and there is almost zero lag between them and actual bus positions.

    Hmm.. it is tempting to try and build one, maybe install it outside at the transit stop in my apt complex.

  12. I think this is great. However I believe it to be fundamentally flawed.

    The status light shows the bus status as ‘at the stop’ when it can be, in fact, in transit to the next stop.

    It needs an additional light positioned between each ‘stop’ to show that the bus is ‘in transit’ between stops.

    Showing the status as ‘at bus stop x’ is blatantly false information if the bus is in transit between stops!


  13. This is Matt again who is one of the designers.

    Actually, we have LEDs inbetween each stop. Sometimes more than one. There are 42 LEDs, and only about 15-20 of them are actual bus stops.

    Also, like Auburn, at Ga Tech they do have large LCD screens inside buildings/student center, that show the next bus website of all the bus locations. However, if you are at the stop that is of little help. You have to get out your cell phone login to tech wireless, go the the NextBus website, select a stop, and then view a useless/incorrect prediction of minutes till the next arrival. That’s alot of steps and requires internet access and time.

  14. I’ve wanted to set up something similar for DC Metro Busses for a while. I’d be cool to have an app for gps enabled phones where people could hit a button that says I’m on such and such a bus then everyone else could see where the bus is. It’d obviously be a bit more complex, needing to only listen to info from a valid bus route location and have a voting system, etc.

  15. Wait, how long has this been operational? I just got back home from my first year at Tech 3 days ago, and I don’t remember seeing this. Then again, I never use that particular bus stop anyway, so I probably wouldn’t have noticed it for a while.

    I agree, NextBus is NextToUseless (lol c wat i did thar), so I could definitely see the use of this system. Did you have to work with the Tech administration to get these approved and placed in the Tech Trolleys? Or did you just have a friend with the GPS transmitter sitting on the Trolley for the purpose of this video?

  16. this is matt again who is one of the designers.

    We worked on this all semester as our Senior Design Project in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department. We are using GPS data that was made available for us to use since the information is already being provided by GPS transponders on the buses. GT Transportation provides the data to NextBus for the website tracking, and we just used that same feed for attaining our GPS locations.

    We have tested it at bus stops for demonstrations within the last couple weeks, that’s why you haven’t seen it. Trials will possibly begin this summer at 1 or 2 bus stops probably, GT Transportation is working closely with us on that.

  17. Being a tech fail-out, I’m glad they finally got this system up and running. I actually came up with an eerily similar idea, almost exactly, using solar panels, wifi, and LEDs on a paper map to save power… but alas, “never got around to it”. Guess that’s what separates us, huh.

    Go Jackets!!!

  18. This is Daniel, another one of the designers. Just thought I’d say thanks to everyone for the comments and to danny, Welcome to Tech and if both of us are lucky you’ll see these all over campus by the time you graduate.

  19. Danny beat me to it. I’m also a first year tech student and as soon as I saw the video I was saying “No way! When the hell did that get put up”? I use that stop all the time and I’ve never seen it. How do you guys access the GPS data. I’ve wondered for sometime how nextbus does it. Is the feed public/available? I’d love to be able to view it.

  20. from matt again. Well, it turns out, Ga Tech has their own GPS tracking equipment on the bus and provides NextBus with the GPS locations. NextBus then displays it on their website, which you can see via webpage or cell phone as you may know.

    For this project we had permission to use an xml feed NextBus provided us. Now that we know the data originates from Ga Tech we hope to be able to cut NextBus out of the picture.

  21. sir……..

    the concept is really awesome..

    pls do guide me through. if u can.

    really very intrested in this concept…neeed ur help.. wting of ur reply…

    me doing mine graduation in computers….

  22. W00t Georgia Tech. When the hell are we gonna get these at the stops? I’m tired of waiting 20 minutes for the Red route bus at the Guggenheim building when I could be home already.

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