Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Future of OneBusAway

Dear riders,

Hi. We've not been properly introduced. My name is Brian and I'm the creator of OneBusAway. I'm a bus rider just like you and I started OneBusAway almost three years ago with the simple goal of making it easier to ride the bus. I'm also a grad student at UW getting my PhD in computer science. I managed to convince my advisors a while back to let me work on OneBusAway as part of my graduate research and things have been going well ever since.

Perhaps too well: there are now over fifty thousand of you using OneBusAway every week. That's an amazing number of riders for a grad student project. Of course, the trouble with grad students is that we sometimes actually graduate. Assuming my defense goes well a week from Thursday, that'll be my trouble too. The big question then is, "What's next?"

For me, I want to keep helping transit riders. Working on this project has been one of the most rewarding things I've ever done and I have no intention of stopping now if I can help it. What's more, I want to help riders world-wide, not just in Seattle. That and a lot of other reasons led me to my ultimate decision.

I'm going to work for Google. Specifically, the Google Transit team. If you've ever used Google Maps to plan a trip using public transit from point A to point B, then you're familiar with their work. Why Google? To put it simply, Google has done more to improve than usability of public transit than any other company I can think of. Their transit trip planner has made trip planning possible for hundreds of agencies where it wasn't before, and dramatically improved the trip planning experience for many agencies with planners of their own. What's more, projects like OneBusAway would not even be possible without the work of Google engineers. Their efforts to establish the GTFS spec for exchanging transit schedule data really launched the open transit data revolution that has lead to apps like OneBusAway and countless others. And perhaps you've heard they're getting into real-time?

What does that mean for you? My goal is that some day soon, you'll be getting all your transit info from Google. I'm sure some of you are skeptical of this goal, but I hope to change your mind. While I don't claim to speak for my future employer, Google already has some of the best tools anywhere for helping pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and yes even car drivers, and they are only going to get better. I plan on doing everything > I < can to help that process along. And before I leave for Google this summer, I'm doing everything I can to make sure Puget Sound transit agencies are putting their best foot forward in terms of providing the data that powers services like OneBusAway and Google Transit. I won't say too much about that now, but in case you doubt my conviction, know that I'll be defending my dissertation and going through new employee orientation at King County Metro less than 24 hours apart. Dreams really do come true people ; )

In the meantime, we're not pulling the plug on OneBusAway the day I graduate. OneBusAway is NOT "abandoning Seattle". I'm doing everything in my power to make sure the lights stay on and while I can't say exactly what that will look like at this time, know that there are a number of options on the table and I'm confident we'll find a solution going forward.

As I've said before, working on OneBusAway has been an incredibly rewarding experience and it wouldn't be possible without the thousands of OneBusAway users like you. If you're anything like me, I know OneBusAway is a critical part of your daily commute (I don't even know how to get get home when OneBusAway is down). I'm doing everything I can in the future to keep building tools that help make using public transit a little easier for riders like you. While I can't promise exactly what that future will look like, all that I can ask is that you judge me by the work I've done as I pursue the work I hope to do.

Thanks,
Brian

92 comments:

Jordan said...

good luck!

Bobby said...

Thanks for all your effort. One Bus Away has been an invaluable tool for me over the last year. Thanks for making it.

Gouda said...

Awesome news for you, Brian. Good luck to you!

Tristan Pipo said...

This is some excellent news! Sounds like the future is looking very bright.

john.kisela said...

Thanks for your efforts and good luck in the future! And, as someone who just started using the service when I started to take the bus in January, and is too chea . . . er, thrifty to get a 'smartphone', please don't forget us poor SMS-dependant folks when you get to Google! Onebusaway hasn't been as usable since that disappeared a couple of months back!

Jadid said...

Congrats Brian, awesome work and working for Google is your reward for all your efforts. Thanks now and in the future.

Tatiana Gill said...

Thank you Brian, from the bottom to the top of my heart! You changed my life :)

BLACK said...

I just moved here From Atlanta, Georgia and this app has been invaluable to me. Without out it I would have a hard time finding my way around Seattle. Thank you and good luck in all you endeavors.... You rock!!!!!

Eugene

Katy said...

Thank you so much for all that you've done, and all that you plan to do in future. And goodness, congrats!! How exciting.

Towel.Bot said...

Thank you so much for your hard work! I really appreciate your efforts in regards to onebusaway and look forward to seeing your efforts put forth by Google. Good luck!

By: Thomas Drake Steffens said...

Thank you Brian, OBA is my most used app!!!

Tom said...

By Google do you mean in Mountain View, or in Seattle? A year from now do you still see yourself involved with OneBusAway at all?

Joe said...

Brian - Congrats on the new gig - I'll be looking forward to seeing what comes out!

shani thunders said...

I've known Brian since we both started grad school. He is one of the smartest, most creative, kindest, and dependable people I know. Super psyched to see you take over Google transit, Brian! :) Thanks for making Seattle a better place.

THE Bob said...

I don't understand why Metro doesn't take it over as a service and promote the heck out of it. Between Google Maps and OneBusAway, I feel comfortable taking mass transit anywhere in Seattle. I've become a bit of a OBA evangelist showing people how to use the phone and SMS service while waiting at the bus stop.

When I told my insurance company I was using a tank of gas every 2 months they dropped my premium $500 annually.

Good luck and I hope your project can become permanent and paying for someone ;)

W2M said...

Brian, I can only assume that by 'going to work at Google' you mean "becoming the Hogwarts Professor of making Dark Arts Light via OneBusAway" - my wife relys on OBA to get her home and so I thank you.

Bruce said...

Brian, you've done an awesome job with OBA and congratulations on your new gig with Google. I just read an article on how Google seemed headed toward providing OBA-like services as part of Google Maps, and I'm glad to hear you're part of that effort. Thank you for all your hard work!

Emily C. said...

Congratulations on the new gig and THANK YOU for providing such an amazing service. I don't know a bus rider who doesn't use it at this point, and we all sing your praises.

Christina said...

Like everyone else you have made the transition to daily public transit simple for me. I was showing my boyfriend how great your app is and wondering if there would ever be a day when google incorporated it into their own app to simplify the process and allow me to see what buses take the same route (now it may just happen- I can dream). PLEASE make this happen! Also when you get to google will you check out if they have a way to fix something small:

When you map out a bus trip and it requires a transfer it doesn't indicate when to exit, nor does it show walking directions to the next bus... If it weren't for cross reference with OBA I wouldnt take the bus due to anxiety of getting lost!

I am amazed you conceived of something that has aided so many on their journey and I am overjoyed that your work is being recognized by google and that they, too see value in your ideas. Keep up the good fight! Your idea surely has helped increase public transit usage, now I can only imagine that on the google scale.

Steve said...

Thanks Brian. I use your app all the time, and it makes my ride to/from work a lot more efficient. Look forward to seeing what you do in the future...

eitan said...

Hello, and thanks.

Since OBA is open source, maybe it will continue to live after you leave? Doesn't Google have that %20 thing where you get to work on your personal project? Maybe OBA is it!

Mark Tedin said...

Thank Brian! One Bus Away has been my "killer app" these past two years on my iPhone hands down.

Mark Tedin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zhu Zhu said...

Please let us know how we can help OneBusAway thrive! Every time someone tells me that they ride the bus, I tell them about your project. I love not waiting for the bus that is late/very late/never comes.

Sarah said...

One Bus Away has radically changed my bus commuting. I am so grateful for this service and for people like you that make it happen! I wish you the best in making transit more acessible for people around the world.

Pearl Lee said...

Hello Brian. Thank you for all you've done. OneBusAway is an invaluable part of my public transit life. My day usually starts and ends with a 358 and OBA makes what can be a challenging route so much more manageable; a lot less swearing, brow-furrowing and fist-shaking. I do assume your defense will go brilliantly and am excited about your future. I look forward to OneBusAway's evolution. Congratulations and thank you.

Rob in Seattle said...

By vastly reducing the frustration of riding the bus, One Bus Away made it SO much easier for our family to be car-free the last two years. I'm disappointed to hear you'll be moving on, but definitely see the potential of the move to Google, both for you personally and for transit riders everywhere. Many thanks, and keep up the good work.

Andrew said...

Good for you, Brian!

I've always paired google transit and OBA for all my transit needs about town. It's nice to hear your efforts are going to continue and hopefully bring the two together (one app instead of two=better in my book).
good luck and thanks for the ride!

(oh yes, and THANK YOU for not choosing bing!)

stokes said...

keep it up! OneBusAway saves my life on the daily. I think I might die without it.

John said...

Glad it's going to continue! Good luck in Geneva.

Also, I feel compelled to mention that I used to ride the same bus as you, and even got on and off at the same stop, but never knew it until the Seattle Times story. I was blown away.

Phillip said...

Thank you for all the hard work over the years and good luck and congratulations.

My commute and travels are already a constant mix of Google tools and OneBusAway so this actually has me even more hopeful that things will only get better. I can't wait to see what comes next.

Rodan said...

I wish you sucess and happy trails! Your work has made life so much easier for OBA users. It must be the app I use most. I look forward to utilizing the fruit of your labors as I travel to other cities.

JW said...

Thank you, love your app. I use it every other day.

William Carleton said...

Excited to see what you come up with at Google! Good luck and thank you for the life changing OBA.

Amy said...

OneBusAway has helped me avoid standing at a bus stop in the rain, snow, and hail more times than I can count. In the years before OneBusAway, being made to stand for godknowshowlong made taking the bus seem like a punishment for not having enough money to own a car.

Thanks so much for all your help, congratulations on your graduation, and good luck taking on the world!

Darkmane said...

Please, post the code some place, then it can live on without you.

Given your future employer, code.google.com.

Nicki O said...

Good job on this wonderfully free app! Thank you for your efforts in promoting public transit, which is much needed! Good luck on future endeavors.

onlyelkay said...

Thank you for onebusaway and best of luck to you at the goog!!

David said...

Hey! Good job graduating and hooking up with google. Do us all a favor and make sure google adds alternate routs as a search function. Maybe even multiple stops. Again, great job on the app!

Missy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Missy said...

Best of luck! I'm a frequent transit user and found your app simply Amazing! Thanks for your continued efforts and for being an advocate for public transport :)

Kevin said...

Thank you so much for your work. One bus away is invaluable to me and makes public transit in Seattle a piece of cake. I agree with you about Google. I was in Austin, Texas recently and--being without OneBusAway--relied on Google maps to navigate the bus system. Good luck with your dissertation defense and in your future career.

Reefer madness Seattle said...

Brian - quite simply a fantastic app. Thanks for all your hard work over the years. Congrats on your Google gig - OneBusAway for life!

Modern Day Ronin said...

Brilliant App. Thanks for your work and the reminder that dreams do come true.

PeterMShirley said...

Hey, good news that you're wrapping up your Ph. D.! Congratulations! I'm not sure who's luckier, Google or you, but I'm psyched to know that your mind and drive will be helping Google's (very cool) transit team.

Thanks for OneBusAway, I've been using it for years and love it. I'll be watching Google's transit offerings closely.

J said...

OBA was the first app that made me have iPhone envy.

Nate said...

Thank you so much for the work you've done! OnebusAway on my iPhone has been a God send more times than I can count. I wish you well during your defense and look forward to your future projects!

-Nate

Joey463 said...

Thanks for the work you've already done. I got an idea.. How about "Google presents .... OneBusAway" and you head the project ? Just joking, thanks for helping out a fellow bus rider for the time you have. Peace and good luck.

Alice said...

Thank you and all the best for the future. I am sure we Seattle bus riders will see more good to come from you. Thanks again...

Gangs UNV said...

Good luck Brian....OneBusAway is really a wonderful app for all KingCounty/ST commuters....thanks 4 ur efforts...

Bill said...

Brian -- OBA makes the Go Anywhere promise possible on Metro transit-- I can't see riding without it - never need to wait again.

WasillaKatie said...

Dear Brian,

I moved to Seattle 6 months ago, and sold my car before I moved. I download every Seattle transportation app I could find, and fell in love with OBA from the moment I launched it. I start every morning by walking out of my apartment and immediately finding out how early or late the 33 is. I end every day by assessing which stop and which bus will get me home the fastest, based on who is on time / early / late / Mia :-) I have been known to launch OBA upwards of 10-20 times in a single day.... If not more.

Like everyone else has said, you have made mass transit commuting a walk in the park. I cannot tell you how much it means to me, to suddenly find out that you are a grad student, let alone that this was "just" a project. Congratulations on your diploma, you deserve it and a special commendation. Google is getting a tremendous gift in employing you. I hope it can be everything that YOU dream of, as well. I eagerly await signs of your work, as I check Google maps, for updates.

Congratulations again, and THANK YOU for everything!

Rob Cheng Rob Cheng said...

As a recent NYC transplant, this app is awesome and a lifechanger. How I wish I had this app when I lived in Manhattan. Anyway, thank you for all your hard work. You've definitely assisted in maintaining healthy blood pressure.

Rob Cheng Rob Cheng said...

As a recent NYC transplant, this app is awesome and a lifechanger. How I wish I had this app when I lived in Manhattan. Anyway, thank you for all your hard work. You've definitely assisted in maintaining healthy blood pressure.

Michael said...

As one of your 50,000 top fans, thank you! I've come to be not just a local user but advocate for the app. Colleagues and friends always comment on how much easier navigating Seattle's Metro has been. We truly appreciate the hard work and creativity. Also wishing you well in your future endeavors with Google - especially coming from the backyard of Microsoft and Amazon ;)

Good luck on your defense!

s said...

You are a super awesome human !
Thanks for being you!

s said...

You are a super awesome human !
Thanks for being you!

Julia said...

I LOVE OneBusAway! I hope it never goes away because I don't think I could tolerate living in the dark ages again...literally, standing out in the dark, and cold, and rain, waiting for a bus that *might* come...eventually.

You have truly made people's lives better. Congratulations on your move and good luck!

The Nordbergs said...

Hi Brian,

OneBusAway has helped my wife and I greatly with our commuting time and cost. We've been able to efficiently utilize public transit while juggling a schedule with 3 kids, school and work. OneBusAway made it simple--thank you.

Good luck on what's next and go Dawgs.

Jeff

Scott Spradling said...

Brian,
The only defense you need for your dissertation are the many streams of comments right here! It is rare to find someone that has made a difference without thinking of making a buck first. You have forever changed the scope of public transport. You should be Knighted! Best of luck!

Michelle said...

Thank you so much for this tool. It has made taking transit a much easier endeavor. Good luck to you and I'm sure you'll make Google Transit an even more valuable tool!

Kate said...

Congratulations and thank you! To echo many of the other posters, this app is invaluable. As a recent transplant, OneBusAway helped me find my way and made me more likely to use public transit because you made it so easy! Good luck in the future!

zarcher said...

Brian,
This is great news. Both OBA and Google's trip planner have features I would like to see working together. I often flip back and forth between the two apps. I was actually quite surprised at the 50K number. I assumed it would have been a lot more. It seems like it would have been a big enough thorn in Google's side to buy you out so hopefully they have. And if they haven't, make them! With your powers combined, Captain Transit!

I am sure you've put a lot of thought into your future. This is the kind of idea everybody wishes they had first and I hope you are able to leverage it to at least a boat load of Google stock.

Good luck and congratulations.

Terri said...

Thank you for all that you've done. Best of luck with your defense and your future endeavors.

Jeremiah said...

Good luck on your defense and your future. OBA is one of my most used apps. Great job!

Ayesha said...

Thanks for a nice share you have given to us with such an large collection of information. Great work you have done by sharing them to all. simply superb. Photo Recovery

s70048 said...

Hi Brian,
Could I come to your defense? I have been to defenses in the Biological sciences at UW - don't know how other departments conduct them, but I'd like to, if they're open affairs (the talk part). Thanks.
-Sean, regular OBA user :-)

Jessica Louie said...

I felt so helpless and inefficient when my iphone was down for a week and i couldnt access OneBusAway. This has been a lifesaver for me and the many people to whom I have recommended it. I hope the replacement is just as amazing! Thank you for keeping Seattle moving!

Information Desk said...

Bar none, this is the best and most frequently used app on my iPod Touch!

Thank you Brian!

Jeanette said...

You did SUCH an amazing job, I didn't (though admittedly should have) realize that this was JUST a seattle app. It works so well, I guess i thought it was a new website in general for people. When it was down at one point, I contacted metro and they are like, we don't even know how they are getting the data so good luck in helping them to understand what an invaluable tool this is!

Rebecca McCarthy, Ph.D. said...

Thank you for this app and all you have done! Good luck on your defense and future work!

Sekhar Lanka said...

Brian, tnx for the wonderful app. I use this every single day. I wish you good luck with your future projects.

Abhi said...

Hey Brian, What to say...thanks a bunch for creating this simple but very very effective site for a daily commuter like me. It's amazing. Wish you all the very best in Google and for your future.

lori said...

Brian: Thanks for everything you've done. Best. Bus. App. Ever. :)

Good luck and best wishes in your future--and I hope that includes more fabulous stuff for us! :)

Duane said...

Thanks for all the effort Brian. I have been using onebusaway for the past year now and it's definitely a valuable commuter tool. I love it. I hope only the best for you on your future endeavors.

Ann C. Polin said...

Wow! I had no idea! Google is lucky to get you - Good luck on your presentation and keep up the good work. I don't know what I'd do without OneBusAway or something like it!

Shiftboard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shiftboard said...

Brian - Awesome work on this great application.

OneBusAway has saved me so much time and patience. You've made a mark on us all. Cheers.


Bryan Lhuillier,
Founder, Passionate Chief Product Guy

Shiftboard
http://www.shiftboard.com

(another kind of dynamic, online scheduling service, for people, right here in Seattle).

Tim Moore said...

Awesome! Congratulations Brian. It was always a pleasure working with you on metro's gtfs data. I hope pur paths cross again. All the best wishes for your future (your success is the transit riders great benefit)!

-Tim Moore

suomynona said...

Thank you Brian. Looking forward to what you come up with at Google. Lastly, if keeping OneBusAway working is a money issue, start charging us $5 to use the app, and add advertising to a free version. I would pay $20 for OneBusAway. Riding Metro sucks not knowing when the next bus is coming. I still don't understand why Metro doesn't care about this more/has their own tool...

radhika nair said...

thank you, brian, your app is the most amazing thing!

Stephanie said...

Brian,

I will literally be lost without One Bus Away. Please let us know how your minions can keep using this amazing service.

Love,
Your adoring fans!

eric1972sea said...

Congrats on the new job. I sure hope the powers that be at KC Metro, and ST step up to the plate. OneBusAway saves them money in the fact that it reduces the need for people to call rider information or use paper schedules just to name two things. So in this time of cuts this is one cut not to make.

Satheesh said...

Hi this blog is really good. I share this blog to my friend. This is really great job man. Keep update to your blog and keep posting realistic and good. The travels is more competion to our world. All the best for your future process good keep it up bye...

Omniart said...

Congratulations and good luck! I use OBA every single day. It saves me so much time and removes, imo, the most frustrating aspect of bus riding: the not knowing. Thank you so much for the app.

vinfotech said...

Its a great news....Congratulations for it.
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purpletiger said...

Wow Brian! It's nice to "know" you. Thanks so much for choosing to help with keeping up with the buses in Seattle, you have saved me sooo much time, I appreciate you! Metro needs to pay you some money to incorporate your system into theirs. I can find out with your system within a minute where my bus is (especially #14), but with Metro I have been know to wait up to 5 minutes or longer :\. Good luck with Google, they're awesome. One thing they need to add to their maps when getting directions via transit are the time increments. Right now it's every hour from 12AM until 7PM and again from 9PM until 11PM, which makes it kinda useless. At this time, I'm having to use Metro's Trip Planner for the time and Google Maps for the location. Good luck in all your future endeavors.

zerosine said...

Thanks for all the hard work! I feel so lucky to live in seattle where you have pioneered such a great app & api system.

Thanks so much for the hard work and I look forward to all your future deavors!

vinfotech said...

Thats nice.Best wishes.

Healthcare IT Solutions

rte1953 said...

Hi, Brian (in case you ever still read this blog). I'm a new iPhone user and have been getting to and from work by bus for the last 4 years, and I just found this blog. Really interesting to know how it works, and I do love the app. Wondered how come sometimes my bus shows up even when the app said it wouldn't ...
your work is fantastic! Thanks.

Jamie said...

The future is very promising and hopefully, there were efficient traffic system, clean and renewable fuel run buses or maybe a flying car.

door to door shuttle service la

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