New app takes the guesswork out of riding MARTA

ATLANTA -- MARTA riders can track the arrival times of buses and trains using OneBusAway, a new app co-developed by an assistant professor at Georgia Tech.

"By having the information at your fingertips, you don't get that nervous feeling of wondering when it's actually coming," said Kari Watkins, an assistant professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Tech.

Watkins co-founded the app while working at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The app uses GPS devices on MARTA buses to track exactly where they are anywhere, anytime.

MARTA has its own free app called "MARTA On the Go" that also tracks wait times, but OneBusAway is designed to be a regional app.

Right now it tracks MARTA, trolleys at Georgia Tech and soon Cobb County Transit buses.

"The idea of putting the information in your hands is so you feel like you're waiting less time, so you would be more likely to use transit, so you would be more satisfied with the system," Kari told 11Alive's Jennifer Leslie.

MARTA buses were added to the app first. MARTA trains were added this year.

With the app, there's no more guesswork.

"If you know you have ten minutes, you could run in the Starbucks down the block, get a coffee, pay your fare and get to your train with just 2 or 3 minutes to spare," said Candace Brakewood, a PhD student who's working with Watkins.

In a few weeks, Brakewood will start a rider survey to study the impact of OneBusAway.

"We want to know how often you take the train, how long you spend waiting for the bus," Brakewood said. "So that way we can start to understand if people who use the app spend less time or take more rides on transit."


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