UW researchers develop Wi-Fi, Bluetooth system to improve bus transit

University of Washington researchers have developed a system that uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals from passengers' mobile phones and devices to collect better data about where bus riders get on and off, how many people use a given stop and how long they wait to transfer to another bus, according to UW Today. The system could help transit agencies collect valuable real-time data to provide better service.

The UW-developed sensors, which cost about $60 per bus, can detect the MAC address associated with a particular mobile device as it boards and leaves the bus. The technology has been used to estimate vehicle travel times on highways and roads, but this is among the earliest attempts to investigate its possible use for collecting passenger origin and destination data on a transit system, researchers said.

"Let's say you have a Husky game or Seahawks game and you want to know how much demand changes so you can offer the right level of bus service for this special event," said senior author Yinhai Wang, a UW professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Pacific Northwest Transportation Consortium. "If you can gather enough data from these real-time sensing systems, that's going to offer very valuable information," he said. Article