Frequently Asked Questions

How is this different from standard GPS-based tracking systems?
BusGenius does more than simply track locations of the buses: It constantly adjusts the positions of the buses so that they are equally spaced in time, so that buses will arrive with the same headway (time between arrivals). This provides the best service and gets maximum use from each bus and driver. And it happens without intervention by management or even awareness of the drivers.
How is this different from a “circulator” route?
Circulators try to keep to a constant headway that has been decided in advance. But actual headways depend on bus velocity, which in turn depends on surrounding traffic, intensity of ridership, weather, driver habits, and a hundred other things that cannot be controlled. Drivers end up chasing an unattainable target. Under BusGenius drivers just flow with the traffic because BusGenius does all the work. It abandons the idea of a target to focus on achieving the smallest headway that conditions will allow.
Can’t the same thing be achieved if the drivers can communicate, say by walkie-talkie?
No. Each driver has only a local view of the route and may, in trying to make local improvements, actually make things worse. And it is hard for a dispatcher to know how to correct bus positions — should that bus go faster or should the following bus go slower or both? Furthermore, a dispatcher sees the distance between buses but not the time, and so again it is easy to inadvertently make things worse.
What about schemes that signal to a driver whether to speed up or slow down?
Research has shown that drivers feel nagged by such systems. Moreover, surrounding traffic is likely to make it hard or impossible to speed up or slow down.
My routes experience frequent surges in traffic and ridership. Will BusGenius still work?
This is what BusGenius is especially good at. It watches the stream of location reports from buses, infers what is happening and then determines how to help. It adapts quickly to changes in the number of passengers, number of buses or their sequence, or even the route traveled. BusGenius easily handles surges in ridership, such as during class changes at a university. It also handles surges in traffic, such as during rush hour, when headways may double in size. BusGenius even allows one bus to pass another, such as when a bus has stopped to load a passenger in a wheelchair. And BusGenius continues to work if the route is altered, such as when there is a detour to avoid construction. Under BusGenius none of these events requires management intervention or special action by drivers. It makes all adjustments necessary.
Is BusGenius suitable for routes with long headways?
Probably not: Research has shown that people want a schedule if headways are longer than 10–12 minutes.
Can BusGenius coördinate the buses with those of other routes to which passengers may want to transfer?
No: BusGenius coördinates the buses on a route but not among routes.
Won’t passengers be annoyed if the bus pauses at a bus stop?
We have found this not to be the case for several reasons. First, BusGenius does not hold a bus very long (a few minutes at most, and this is controllable by management). Also, BusGenius displays a count-down timer so passengers know when the bus will depart. Finally, we recommend choosing layover points to be ones where fewer passengers are expected to ride through, such as the endpoints of the route, or transit interchange points, such as bus terminals, subway stations, or parking lots.
How many layover points should there be?
This is a management decision for which there is no “right” answer. Having more layover points provides more assertive control of headways; but then buses may pause more often. Fortunately, it is easy to experiment.
How does bus capacity affect BusGenius?
When buses are bunched, the trailing buses can be nearly empty, which reduces effective capacity of the system. Because our system keeps buses well-spaced, it tends to spread the load among buses and so makes best use of capacity. And BusGenius never delays a full bus.
How can I integrate BusGenius into my current communications architecture?
There are several options. One is to equip each bus with a phone or tablet with cellular connection and use our interface via a browser — no programming required. Alternatively, you can communicate with BusGenius through its API and use or display the information from BusGenius however you wish.
My bus system is in country X; how can I use BusGenius?
BusGenius is entirely cloud-based and can be deployed as a service anywhere in the world. Furthermore, BusGenius can be configured so that all interactions are in your language of choice.
What are the costs or risks in trying BusGenius?
BusGenius is easy and safe to try. We can show you the real-time map of a current client or introduce you to a current client. Or, if you like, we can join you to ride your route and let you see BusGenius in action. All that is required is a few tablets or phones with browsers. There is no need to change anything about your current hardware or software.