Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Leg up to Public Transport

There's a new public transport web site and service available. Unlike SBSTransit's Iris NextBus for mobile devices, which is only available to Singtel and Starhub subscribers, this new service is available to anyone with a cellphone. With this new service, the public transport commuter just sends an SMS message to the number 77722 with the bus stop number. Within seconds, a list of arrival times for all buses at the bus stop will be sent to the cellphone. I tried it twice, and its fairly accurate. Maybe not up to the second accurate. It may be 1-2 minutes off, but in terms of sequence of arrival of the buses, it is spot on.

The only limitation with this service is that it only covers the academic town of Clementi - so students in Singapore Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, NUS, NTU and UniSIM are the main beneficiaries of the free service. It won't be free forever. Come next year (April, I think), each query will be charged. What the exact charge is, over and above the cost of the SMS, which must still be borne by the public transport commuter, is not known yet. iris Nextbus charges 5 cents per SMS request for postpaid customers and 10 cents for prepaid customers (Singtel prepaid accounts only). Since this is a service provided by LTA, it should cost less, hopefully. If it doesn't cost too much, it is going to be a winner, at least for those who use public transport in Clementi.

Oftentimes, I debate whether I want to take the bus on the other side of the road, or this side as several buses on different routes can take me to the same destination. What if I moved away from the bus stop and minutes later, find the bus that I was waiting for 'sailing' in? It happened before several times, much to my dismay. So with this Publictransport@sg system, there'd be no more second guessing. I can make an informed decision.

Public transport has just got a leg up.

Image: morgueFile.com. Author: Martin Cannings