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Bus-Lambda: A low-cost, real time transit information system
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  • Varun Adibhatla,
  • Aaron D'souza,
  • Xia Wang,
  • Vishwajeet Shelar,
  • Manrique Vargas
Varun Adibhatla
ARGO
Author Profile
Aaron D'souza
ARGO
Xia Wang
ARGO
Vishwajeet Shelar
ARGO
Manrique Vargas
NYU CUSP

Abstract

As the world urbanizes and megacities continue to attract vast populations to their economic cores, the bus has remained a vital part of the public transit stack to ensure the efficient and safe movement of people, at scale.
Enhancing and preserving the quality public transit as billions of people emerge out of extreme poverty and migrate to cities in the pursuit for better lives, remains challenging for many transit and municipal entities.  It is therefore vital that cities find sustainable methods to improve the quality and safety of the public transit experience with fewer resources.
Real-Time Transit Information Systems is an opportunity that has shown to increases in ridership, substantial increases in fare revenue, reduced waiting times, and overall satisfaction with  transit service. Many cities could could achieve these outcomes for millions by reducing friction and lowering the barrier to implementing real-time transit information at scale, sustainably. Encouragingly, with advances in cloud computing, Wifi positioning system, and inexpensive hardware this missing layer of useful information between transit providers and users amounts to a common-sense integration and deployment of technology.
In this paper we offer the design, development, and deployment of Bus-Lambda, a low-cost system to track buses in a city. The system itself leverages advances in low-cost hardware, cloud computing and critically, a means of acquiring a bus' location without the use of a dedicated GPS device. 
We argue that Bus-Lambda can  address information asymmetry of bus location awareness and significantly reduce the barrier and cost of operating a real-time transit information system towards the goal of a successful, highly scalable implementation.  Cost estimates of implementing Bus-Lambda  across an entire city's bus network is between $75-$100 per bus compared to current implementations that cost many thousands of dollars.