Public Transportation Notifier

[Knuckles904] was tired of waiting for the bus. His town had installed GPS units on the buses so that riders could track their locations via the Internet so he knew there should be a way to avoid the wait while also never missing the bus. He developed a sketch for an Arduino to check the bus location and notify him when it was on its way.

This method saves him from leaving his computer running. It parses the text data from the public transportation website and updates both an LED display, as well as a Twitter feed. Now he can monitor several different bus lines via the hardware at home, or though a cell phone if he’s on the go.

29 thoughts on “Public Transportation Notifier

  1. Probably not the best looking project you’ve written about. He really should consider a different solution than a breadboard and a bunch of cables. And since he’s a poor student, he probably would benefit by transferring the code to a regular ATMega to free up the Arduino.

  2. There have been practical uses for GPS ever since it’s conception. The fact that I or others didn’t have a practical use for it is besides the point. Strange how a simple text display can still trump an image display. The map display of the bus locations kinda a suck, though it was fun to watch the icons move. The text display gives you just the information you need, but a twitted update every five minutes may be information overload. A cabinet would make it more visually appealing, but wouldn’t add to the functionality. He’s an engineering student, so visitors would halfway would expect to see something like this laid out naked.

  3. Yay – neat hack. By ‘neat’ I mean building a viable solution to a problem he had. It would be great to follow up on which implementation he chooses to go ahead with, assuming he does follow it up, or if it where me, get bored and move onto something else.

  4. “There have been practical uses for GPS ever since it’s conception. The fact that I or others didn’t have a practical use for it is besides the point”

    I cant believe someone actually wants to debate this

    ok for those who cant wrap your brain around this its pretty easy, every useful project that involves an arduino the first (or first few) post’s almost always include

    “hey look a practical use for the arduino”

    being a smartass I choose to twist it up a little, saying “hey look at something that has LOTS of practical uses”

    D- you earn your name

  5. @zerker:

    This is a practical solution for him and it works, so why do you call him a loser for not having a car? I personally own 2 cars and a house with a 2 car garage, but know many people who won’t own one because they live in a crowded city (think NYC) and it would be very expensive to park/store, public transportation is more convenient and abundant, don’t want to deal with losers who think they own the road, or plain don’t like to drive(etc, etc). Whatever the reason, cars cost money to keep, and many choose not to have one.

    Don’t think because you like cars others do. I personally hate cars, but I’m forced to have them because I live in the suburbs. 2 of them because the small one spends most of the time at the train station’s parking lot—yes, I don’t want to drive to work. The big SUV to go out or shopping (my weekend car) :P

  6. @Zerker

    Ummm you do realise public transport is quite good in some areas, and you save quite alot of money/time/effort.


    It sounds like a great idea, saves waiting at the bus station… particularly if the bus is running away from the scheduled time.

  7. nice job but…….

    why not save the money you’re using to buy crap to make hacks and use the time use spend making them to get a job so then you can get a car…….maybe?……just a thought. But hey what do I know

  8. Haha, quite the assortment of comments. Thanks for the encouragement to those who gave it. But to clarify, I have a car (and a nice one at that, my scholarships helped out), but at a university with limited parking space, students who choose to drive can only park in a few designated (read inconvenient) lots. And guess what you get to do once you park in these lots? Take another bus…or walk ~1mi. So what several people said is correct, it is neither economically nor time efficient to drive to campus. (Hi Zerker)

  9. The government uses your money to GPS equip government busses; and then they don’t have the intelligence and/or motivation to do a simple Web mash-up to notify riders where the busses are via any number of existing instant messaging methods.

    This is what happens when you let the government run your life. If a private company had to compete for this opportunity and operate as a commercial enterprise your bus would practically follow you around if you want, and it would cost the taxpayers less too. No unfunded pensions, no down-time due to union shake-downs.

  10. Well they started trials with GPS/GPRS-enabled buses and a buncha LED signs in my town (Eastern EU), but they never predicted anything in any way meaningful (as ETA), so they soon pulled the plug. These days the signs display time/date, on their remaining LEDs (the buggers do seem to tend to burn out and get left that way…). Yeah, I know, crappy…

  11. This serves his purpose and provided him with a solution to a problem that he had where there was not another solution. His problem wasn’t wether or not he has car, wants to use an arduino or if you will like his hack later. He just wanted to know where the bus was without a computer. Succesful hack. End of story. Kudos to Knuckles. The rest of you flaming, nonsensical lot should try something constructive to do with your oh-so-wise knowledge.

  12. @ Ron

    I work at a company that makes the central units that go inside the buses (in the U.S).
    Each one of these units has a GPS board that i guess transmits the buse’ location at every turn.

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