In recent decades there has been a population shift to suburban neighborhoods and rural areas where public transportation infrastructure can be expensive and/or unpractical. At the same time, increasing energy costs and growing concern about pollution has led to a need for improved transportation solutions. A low investment transportation system is needed that can profitably use existing public and private transportation infrastructure to its maximum potential and provide the framework and data collection needed to promote more innovative, efficient and effective investment in future transportation infrastructure.
The proposed system is a cloud based service that works with existing commercial hardware on the customer end, primarily GPS and Internet enabled cell phones or similar dedicated hardware. GPS navigation and communication enabled devices are also required in the transportation equipment (train, bus, taxi, etc.) that participate with the system. The incentive for transportation service providers to participate in the system is the added revenue possible from a broader customer base.
The system allows a customer to enter a desired destination through their input device. The cloud then processes a database of public and private transportation systems while considering the current position of various transportation equipment to provide possible transportation solutions sorted by cost and estimated travel time. A single cost is provided to the user for each possible transportation solution. For example, if one solution involves a taxi ride to a bus station followed by a bus ride to a train station followed by a train ride to the destination, the total cost for all three modes of transportation (taxi, bus, and train) are included as a single price. Payment is taken from a customer account and automatically divided between the transportation providers. Profit to run the service will be based off a small commission charged for each transaction.
The customer need only follow the transportation route displayed on their cell phone (or dedicated device). Upon reaching the bus station, for example, the phone will display the bus that should be boarded. Customers are identified upon boarding a transportation device by scanning a bar code style image displayed on their cell phone screen. GPS data, with strict privacy rules, is used to ensure customers are routed along the proper route and are never left stranded.
The system also works with existing, non rail based transportation to allow for adaptable transportation routes. For example, if a small town or city has a bus route through a certain section of town and a customer wants to be reach a destination slightly off that route, the bus route can be adapted to reach that destination. In rural areas, the idea of strict bus routes can be replaced with loosely defined routes that conform and adapt to customer demand.
Anonymous information is saved to provide more accurate timing estimations to future customers and to grade the quality of the transportation services. This information can be used to identify areas that need greater transportation infrastructure investment or that offer opportunity for private transportation ventures.