The Minneapolis-based hackers at OMG Transit rebooted their web service last night and are getting tantalizingly close to putting a transportation system in the palm of your hand — or at least on your smart phone.
The new, rebuilt web service relies principally on data provided by MetroTransit, one of a fraction of transit agencies in the U.S. that supply real-time, useful data through a public application programming interface, or API. It’s the same data that powers existing apps like Transit, as well as MetroTransit’s NextTrip, which can tell you what buses are traveling near you, and even tell you when the next bus will be going your way.
OMG Transit has a twist: They’ve added Car2Go reservations to the interface and will include NiceRide when it starts up again. They’re hoping to add services like Uber and Lyft, and bring together the full panoply of options, other than driving your own car. They’re hoping for an app that will even send you a notification that your bus is approaching your stop.
“Our target has been the die hard transit riders to this point,” says Matt Decuir, CEO of what isn’t quite a business yet, but has eight people working hard to turn it into one. They’re a web start-up still in the “bootstrap” phase, working nights and weekends. “We’re going to start branching off pretty quickly to making it accessible for anybody, like people in the suburbs that don’t take the bus very frequently. We’re just thinking about the transit experience holistically. If its freezing cold outside and there isn’t a bus coming for another 30 minutes, what are your options? If you need to bring something into work today, you need a car instead of a bus, you could take a Car2Go.”
That’s getting a little more realistic now. MPR’s Jon Collins has estimated there could be as many as 400 car-sharing vehicles available in the Twin Cities this year.
Decuir thinks a smart-phone app, which OMG Transit is working on, could tie it all together. “What we’d eventually evolve into is what we call a ‘decision engine,” Decuir says. “So you wake up in the morning and the first thing we send you is a push notification to say this is how you should get to work today. That might take into account factors like the weather, you calendar if you have an appointment, whether you have something after work today… You can set your preferences and we can give you a recommendation.”
Check out their website at OMG Transit.