Detroit Free Press

Text My Bus lets DDOT riders get real-time arrivals for buses

DETROIT — San-Francisco based Code for America has developed a cell-phone application that lets DDOT riders text a database and instantly get real-time bus arrival times.

Code for America, who has been developing civic-oriented applications for years, has been working with Detroit's city government and DDOT to develop the database of routes, and uses GPS already on DDOT's buses to gather the information. The best part? Anybody with a cell phone can use the application, aptly named "TEXT MY BUS", which launched September 4.

Here, try it out for yourself. Text your nearest intersection or current address to "50464" and you'll get a text message back with all the possible routes you can take from your location. Text which route you'd like back to the number, and immediately get the arrival time of the next three buses.

Super cool right?

The other best part is the Code for America and DDOT application don't just list the standard bus schedules, but rather rely on real-time GPS information, so you're always sure to get an accurate bus arrival time, saving you the time you would have spent waiting. Perfect application just in time for winter and students going back to school in the city this fall, who often have to rely on city buses to get there.

So far the service is available to users with AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Alltel, Boost Mobile, Nextel and Virgin Mobile. Code for America is still developing the system for MetroPCS users, but in the meantime they can text 313-499-0937 for the same service.

The project is open source, and Code for America is urging developers to enhance the technology and create smart-phone applications. The grant for the program ends in 11 months. For more information send an e-mail Detroit@CodeForAmerica.org.

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