Wireless Bus Fuss

Wireless could be the answer to speeding up one of the slowest bus routes in New York.

That's the contention of NYC Council Member Gale Brewer who held a press conference this morning to suggest that -- among other things -- a wireless network could help facilitate faster collection of fares and better scheduling of buses on the M96 route.

The M96 travels crosstown in Manhattan along 96th Street at an average speed of 5.1 mph, according to a report issued by Brewer. The route is not quite the slowest in New York, but it is close to it.

The report suggests wireless could make ticket collection easier with smart cards to speed fare payments and "facilitate better bus coordination" so that passengers will wait less time for their ride.

This might seem like a localized issue for New Yorkers, but improving public transport with wireless and other upgrades is a big issue in many cities around the world.

"Bus rapid transit is an idea whose time has come," says Council Member John Liu, Chairperson of the Transportation Committee, in a statement. "Metropolitan areas from Latin America to Europe have embraced this innovative method for turbo-charging pokey buses services like the M96 to reduce street congestion and ensure efficient mass transit." (See Telematics on Track and Students & Turtles Mesh.)

Vendors such as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), startup Junxion Inc. , and others are already making boxes suitable for multi-task networking onboard buses and other transportation. (See Junxion's Cell Through.)

The M96 proposals still seem to be at an early stage so there's no word of a vendor yet. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, however, is already working with Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) on a bus location project just a little way uptown. (See Making Tracks With the MTA.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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