Apr 29

Data Driven Bus Service Will Begin Soon

Matthew George, 23-year-old Middlebury College graduate has found a  mass transit system that could figure out on a daily basis where people are and where they want to go, and then get them there — nonstop — on luxury buses for just a few dollars more than a T ride costs. The first-of-its-kind bus service scheduled to begin trial runs in mid-May with at least four nonstop commuter routes in Brookline, Boston, and Cambridge. Within three months, buses on 18 routes could be shuttling commuters around in Boston and nearby suburbs, said founder Matthew George, and more are planned.

George wants to create a “living, breathing” public transportation system for the 22d century. He said that by harnessing vast amounts of online data that show where people live, work, and play, his bus line — it’s called Bridj — can predict areas of peak demand on any given day and adjust its schedules accordingly.At $5 to $8 a trip, to start, Bridj will be pricier than MBTA buses and trains, but interest in the service — and its high-speed Wi-Fi, leather seats, and complimentary snacks — is already high.

Riders sign up online, and the company collects their home and work ZIP codes, eventually drilling down to specific streets. It also scours the Internet for Foursquare check-ins, tweets, and Facebook updates to gauge travel patterns and factors in significant events such as a Red Sox game. A software program crunches the real-time data to anticipate what routes need to be added, using smaller shuttles to serve less popular destinations.With no stops along the way, travel times would be faster on Bridj than on the T, said George.

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