Boston Bus System Adjusts Its Route Based On Real-Time Data

Boston Bus System Adjusts Its Route Based On Real-Time Data

Bridj hopes to make public transit personalized, data-based and direct.

Rachel Pincus
  • 9 june 2014


One of the most frustrating aspects of planning public transportation — or living your life around it — is its various degrees of permanence. Underground metros and, to a lesser extent, streetcars rely on expensive construction, investment in which policymakers in the U.S. have been notoriously loathe to bring about. Thus, entire neighborhoods may lose or gain property value based on their proximity to public transit, and entire cities sometimes seem built based on decisions made as much as a hundred years ago. Buses are usually slower and not as fiercely defended by residents, but the easy changeability of their routes, since they use the roads also trafficked by cars and pedestrians, seems to leave them destined to fill in whatever gaps are left by the faster forms of transit. But a new pop-up bus service in Boston might change your perception of the city bus forever.


Bridj is a ‘smart’ bus – instead of repeatedly plodding along a conventional route, it adjusts its plans according to data from myriad sources, including Google Earth, Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, LinkedIn, the census, and municipal records. In a similar manner to Uber, real-time smartphone apps alert waiting passengers to arrival times. Currently, its routes are nonstop between Brookline and Downtown Boston, as well as Brookline and Cambridge. A Bridj ticket currently costs $6, as opposed to the T’s $2 fare or a $1.50 bus fare, but one of the bus’s selling points is its luxury features, which include Wifi and the kind of plush seats that don’t usually see a long life on public transit, as well as its speed, getting passengers to their destination in about a third of the time a comparable route on public transit takes.


The founder of Bridj, Matthew George, is just 23, but he clearly has the entrepreneur’s gift of finding markets in unexpected places. While still a student at Middlebury College in Vermont, he was part of the team that worked on BreakShuttle, what he told the New York Times is the nation’s largest network of pop-up shuttle services for college students going home on break. It has thus far served 15 colleges but will be expanding to 40 this fall.

Bridj has similar hopes of rapid expansion; it hopes to have its ‘shuttle’-style routes both multiply and diversify in smaller, more van-like vehicles. And best of all, they hope the small, personal scale of the system will bring users into closer contact with each other, instead of the ethic of avoidance that seems to dominate services like Uber. As they say on their blog, they hope their passengers will “become BFF’s with each other.” In city transit planning, that’s certainly something to toast to.


[h/t] The New York Times, Bridj blog, APTA and National Association of Realtors, Streets MN


Zagat's Cafe Offers Tiny Replicas Of Classic NYC Dishes

Experiential Marketing
USA Today

Amazon Launches Cashier-Free Store For Ultimate Efficiency

The retailer is looking to make shopping even faster by letting customers instantly pay as they walk out the door

Augmented & Virtual Reality Today

Marble-Like Mini-Worlds Invade Miami Art Week And Your Mobile Screen

The gallery world's sphere of influence seems to be expanding into the realm of Pokémon Go—why that's a good thing


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Health Today

A 'USB Stick' That Can Detect HIV Levels

The simple device developed at Imperial College London measures viral load in less than 30 minutes

Customer Retention Today

Crafting The Personalized Retail Experience

Marriott International's Christopher Baer shares insights into how the hospitality company is strategizing customer service

Related Expert

Alex Blumberg

Radio, Journalism, Storytelling

Children Today

Experience The White House In Augmented Reality Using A $1 Bill

1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is an AR app designed to help people learn about the history and significance of the United State's capital building

Travel Today

Portable Computer Monitor Opens Up Like An Umbrella For Travelers

This mobile screen and projector means work can go anywhere and still feel like working from home

Food Today

Starbucks Is Selling An Automated Temperature-Setting Mug

For those looking to keep their coffee hot on their winter commutes, the coffee chain has created a device that keeps beverages exactly at their desire temperature


Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business

PSFK Op-Ed december 2, 2016

Customer Service Expert: Why Offline Retail Has Better Data Than Online Retail

Healey Cypher, Founder and CEO of Oak Labs, shares why we should be thinking about the physical store as an e-commerce site

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

Mobile Today

This Piece Of Plastic Is Designed To Curb Phone Addiction

The NoPhone Air from New York agency Barton F. Grafis is actually no phone at all

Retail Yesterday

Store Technology Expert: Why Retailers Must Invest In Store Associates

Jan Kotowski, Head of Product at Tulip Retail, shares his thoughts on how retailers should be preparing for the future

Product Launch Yesterday

United Airlines Launches An Updated Business Class Program

The new Polaris product prioritizes customer service and updated modern amenities

Travel Yesterday

Video Explores Complex Museum Architecture

A mini video gives a quick overview of the most beautiful cultural buildings built

Sustainability Yesterday

Smog Vacuum Turns Pollution Particulates Into Unique Jewelry

A large device was installed in Beijing that sucks up smog and compresses it into small centerpieces atop jewelry


Conference Built Around Our Report Launch

Fashion Yesterday

PSA Fashion Line Shines A Light On Victim Blaming

YWCA Canada is using fashion and sexist tweets to highlight how often we as a society blame the victim in cases of abuse

Syndicated Yesterday

What PSX 2016 Tells Us About The Modern Games Industry

Nostalgia and big brands are defining how the console market is being shaped

Financial Services Yesterday

VP: Why Messaging Apps Are Issuing In A New Era Of Commerce

Matt Johnson discusses how mobile messaging commerce is creating a different modality for interaction between retailers and consumers

No search results found.