Magic Bus

“If I just knew when the next one was coming I could go and grab a cup of coffee.” Or get cash from the ATM. Or walk to the next stop. These are all thoughts that often run through our minds while waiting for the bus. That’s where Roadify wants to help bus-riding Brooklynites. Their new project, called Buses Around Me, will launch on Wednesday or Thursday of this week.

The Park Slope-based company produces platforms that help connect communities through transportation issues. Their first project, Parking Around Me (PAM) got off the ground last fall, and is catching on in the Slope. With PAM, you text GIVE and then an address to 95495 when you leave a parking spot. If you are circling the block in frustration, you text GET to 95495 and you will receive a text with spots that are currently available. You can also follow @roadify on Twitter and follow the same procedure using direct messages.

BAM will work in much the same way, but the information will follow the B67 bus. So if you’re waiting for the bus at 7th Avenue and 9th Street and wondering whether or not you have time to run to walk to Espresso Grumpy and back before the next bus comes you can text or tweet “GET.” Ideally, you will receive a text back saying: “On Dumbo-bound B67 crossing Prospect Ave.,” so you’ll know to stay put. Or, more likely, “Three northbound B67s in a jam by Greenwood Cemetery,” and you can go get your afternoon half-caf latte.

The system runs on community involvement, by design. “It’s partially a social experiment,” says Daniel Robinson, a Roadify member and true believer. “Are people willing to give as much as to get?” Robinson says that Roadify founder, Nick Nyhan spent much of 2008 working on grassroots strategies for the Obama campaign and that the experience inspired him to create a platform for communication in Brooklyn. “The people of Brooklyn breed an activist and progressive spirit,” says Robinson.

Roadify plans to add more bus lines to BAM in the coming months, and while the current plan is to branch out following buses that intersect with the B67, they are taking suggestions. Here at BB we nominate the new B62 line and promise to give whenever we ride. Send Roadify an email stating your candidate for the next bus line to get the BAM treatment. This service, combined with MTA cuts and the fact that the MTA made all their schedule data available to developers when they unveiled their new site last week suggests a semi-DIY public transit system of the future.

Robinson and other Roadifyers are currently testing the system, and taking a lot bus trips between Kensington and Dumbo, so that BAM can go live later this week. Register your phone now, and you’ll get a text message when they’re up and running. The sooner Roadify’s system is fully operational, the sooner you can stop wondering when the next bus will arrive.

Sent by Annaliese. Photos courtesy of Roadify.

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