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$1,704
pledged of $320,000pledged of $320,000 goal
27
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Wed, December 17 2014 2:00 PM UTC +00:00
128 Business CouncilBy 128 Business Council
First created
128 Business CouncilBy 128 Business Council
First created
$1,704
pledged of $320,000pledged of $320,000 goal
27
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Wed, December 17 2014 2:00 PM UTC +00:00

About

What is Smart Bus?

Smart Bus is a software-based transit service that routes buses dynamically in response to demand.  It does not have a fixed route or schedule, but rather allows commuters to plug in their locations via smart phone, and then computes the best route by which to pick them up.  Many commutes are lengthened by arduous connections between transit lines; Smart Bus reduces these connections, thereby reducing the headache that complicated commutes can bring. 

Basically, Smart Bus lets you create a public transit route and schedule that works specifically for you.

Beyond creating completely new dynamic routes, Smart Bus will also complement existing fixed routes by connecting shorter, localized trips to fixed-route buses, commuter rail, and subway station locations.  Both of these functions are part of the broader goals of reducing travel times, reducing the use of single-occupancy vehicles, and improving access to real-time vehicle arrival information.

Initially during the pilot period, Smart Bus will serve the Route 128 Corridor of Massachusetts.  However, once we get the system up and running, we will hand the technology out to other transportation companies throughout Massachusetts, and eventually throughout the nation.

How Does Smart Bus Work?

Customers will request a trip via a smart phone application.  More specifically, they will plug in their current locations, their intended destinations, and when they need to arrive.  The "central dispatch system" (i.e. a software algorithm) will then factor in distance, bus capacity, gas mileage, etc. to determine whether it is possible to pick each customer up. 

Example:  Johnny is standing at intersection ABC and one of our buses is located just a mile away when he enters his location. The Smart Bus System notifies the driver that Johnny is looking to be dropped off at XYZ, and since there are 5 open seats on the bus, the driver is able to pick up Johnny and bring him to XYZ as part of a minor adjustment to the route.

How It Works
How It Works

Public transit options within suburban communities and lower-density urban communities alike are often infrequent or simply non-existent, forcing citizens to rely on personal vehicles.  By eliminating the need for fixed routes, flexible transit services will thus encourage riders to try (and ultimately depend upon) alternate modes of transportation. The Smart Bus service is designed to give consumers the peace of mind and flexibility that is typically associated with personal vehicles, while also connecting travelers with regional transit services and major public transit hubs.  

Smart Bus offers the best of both worlds: (a) the freedom, previously associated exclusively with personal cars, to travel on your own schedule, avoiding multi-segment trips that take you well out of your way, while still giving you (b) the freedom to sit back and relax (or even work!) while someone else does the driving. 

The Target Market for the initial pilot phase of Smart Bus service includes a variety of individuals including, but not limited to:

  • Employees of businesses within range of a Smart Bus station location
  • Residents within range of a Smart Bus station location (a population that currently realizes limited direct benefits of the 128 Business Council’s Fixed-Route Service Structure)
  • MBTA Commuter Rail passengers

Smart Bus will be integrated whenever possible with the Council’s existing fixed-route services and other area transportation providers including MBTA commuter rail, subway, and fixed-route bus services.

As previously stated, however, once we move beyond the pilot phase, the software will be handed out throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and then the nation, making the Target Market ultimately limitless!

How is Smart Bus Designed?

Smart Bus will require a robust, fully-integrated system of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) hardware and software applications to facilitate vehicle location, scheduling, dispatching, routing, trip assignment, electronic manifesting, and optionally, fare collection capabilities in real-time.  These capabilities are required for Smart Bus customers to remotely request service in real-time or in advance (via mobile devices, tablets, or personal computers), and pay their fares before boarding.  The Smart Bus technology must be able to integrate adaptive predictive algorithms to the vehicle assignment, trip booking, and routing algorithms used to deliver services in real-time.  Additionally, the vehicle routing algorithms must consider real-time traffic, weather, and other external data which will affect the Smart Bus service delivery. 

Flexible transit services should not be confused with ride-sharing or taxi-hailing applications.  Similar to the Smart Bus concept, these applications leverage the near ubiquity of personal mobile devices to connect consumers to existing modal choices. However, unlike these applications which connect consumers to travel modes on a peer-to-peer basis, Smart Bus requires that the apportionment of trips occur between the rider and the "central dispatch system" and between the central dispatch and the vehicle manifest.  While flexible routes can be considered an intermediary between taxi services and fixed-routes, the financial viability of Smart Bus is dependent on increasing the vehicle utility, and hence decreasing traveler delay.

Central Management System
Central Management System

Smart Bus Project Schedule

The following section provides a schedule for the Smart Bus proof-of-concept.  This 56 week schedule is based on a systems engineering approach and presents a realistic scenario by which to bring the Smart Bus proof-of-concept to reality.  This schedule assumes that funding has been secured for the procurement of technologies for the proof-of-concept to proceed.  The tasks are defined as follows:

  • Smart Bus Operating Plan (8 weeks) – Defines the service criteria for Smart Bus.
  • Revise Functional Specification (4 weeks) – Revises the existing specifications to omit optional technologies and broadens the functional requirements of certain system aspects. This task could be completed concurrently with Operating Plan to reduce schedule float.
  • Prepare & Reissue RFP (4 weeks) – The RFP will be revised to include the updated functional specifications and to refine the grading criteria that would be used to evaluate vendors. Vendors should be allowed 4 weeks to submit a response. Proposal evaluations and interviews will require a minimum of 4 weeks before a vendor is selected and a notice to proceed is issued.
  • Design Reviews (12 weeks) – A preliminary design review will serve as the kickoff with the vendor and will serve as a basis for reviewing the functional requirements and compliance matrix. A final design review would occur 8-12 weeks following the kickoff.
  • System Testing (16 weeks) – A series of tests (Factory, Mini-Fleet, and Systems) will be held.
  • Burn-in Test & Systems Acceptance (4 weeks) – Final system acceptance would occur approximately 4 weeks after the systems test, as well as after the successful completion of a 30-day burn-in. Revenue service would begin at this point.
Project Timeline
Project Timeline

Conclusion

The purpose of the Smart Bus is to harness advances in commonly-used technology to change the delivery of transit service in suburban and lower-density markets. The objective is to facilitate transit service delivery, on- demand, and in real-time to more closely mirror the travel demand that exists in these lower-density markets.

128 Business Council has proposed a proof-of-concept, a pilot program aimed at demonstrating and evaluating the viability of flexible transit solutions in the greater Boston region. The intent of this proof-of-concept is to seek and procure services from vendors of transit software, trip planning systems, fare-vending systems, and other relevant hardware, software, and intellectual services through a systems integrator framework to implement the Smart Bus operation. Subsequently, Smart Bus will be deployed and evaluated.

Despite advances in the transit technology spectrum which now allow transportation providers (and customers) to track and locate vehicles in real-time, few have developed products that would allow for flexible, dynamically routed, and on-demand service. Smart Bus requires a novel, technology-based approach to accomplish the intended service delivery.

Risks and challenges

The first big challenge in trying to get this technology off the ground is a lack of current vendor options. There are a number of vendors who produce technologies that allow transit agencies to monitor and locate vehicles in real‐time, but very few have developed products that would allow for flexible, dynamically‐routed on‐demand service. There is currently a pilot in Helsinki (Kutsuplus) that is very similar to what we are trying to do. However, no transit of this type currently exists in the United States.

The second big challenge is ensuring the project's success after development. If we are to fill the gap between personal cars and traditional public transit, then we must win over those who are not already using public transit or other alternative forms of transport. The key to this challenge is going to be education and outreach.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    For a $5 donation, you will receive an amazingly-impressive animated "Thank You" GIF, which you can post on all of your social media accounts to better advertise your commitment to public transit and altruistic giving!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    For a $25 donation, you will receive two one-of-a-kind, limited-run vinyl screen-printed Smart Bus stickers PLUS one mystery sticker. Dress up your your notebook, laptop, cellphone, window, or wall! Show off your commitment to public transit innovation!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    For a $50 donation, you will receive one pair of limited-edition 128 Business Council sunglasses, for stylish rockin' at the beach or on the street, as well as a personalized, hand-written "Thank You" note.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    For a donation of $75, you will receive a custom screen-printed Smart Bus t-shirt, allowing you to proudly display your commitment to public transit everywhere you wear it, as well as two one-of-a-kind, limited-run vinyl screen-printed Smart Bus stickers.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    For a donation of $100, you will receive EARLY ACCESS to the Beta version of the Smart Bus system, as well as an amazingly-impressive animated "Thank You" GIF. Enjoy the future of public transit before anyone else!

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    Pledge $120 or more About $120

    For a donation of $120, you will receive a limited-edition screen-printed transit poster, allowing you to turn your wall into a portal to the future of public transit, as well as two one-of-a-kind, limited-run vinyl screen-printed Smart Bus stickers.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    For a donation of $300, we will print YOUR NAME on a vinyl bus wrap that will be seen by fellow commuters throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts along 128 Business Council bus routes. You will be famous, and public transit users everywhere will know to love you!

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    For a donation of $400, you will receive VIP Access to the Smart Bus launch party AND we will print your name on a vinyl bus wrap that will be seen by fellow commuters throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts along 128 Business Council bus routes.

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    Pledge $600 or more About $600

    For a donation of $600, you will receive a personalized Lego stop-motion "Thank You" video, starring a heroic Lego Minifigure in your likeness, performing heroic acts within the context of a public transit theme. (Note: Likeness will be to the best of our ability.)

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    Pledge $700 or more About $700

    For a donation of $700, you will receive a *SWEET* hand-assembled Lego miniature bus with custom Smart Bus graphics, ready to adorn your shelf or coffee table and sure to inspire many conversations, as well as two one-of-a-kind, limited-run vinyl screen-printed Smart Bus stickers.

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    For a donation of $10,000, we will *LITERALLY* create a custom bus wrap with your likeness on it. This means that a actual bus will be rolling the streets of the Greater Boston Area with your face on the side. (Likeness will be to the best of our ability.)

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Funding period

- (30 days)