In an American first, a transport agency is updating its bus service with mobile barcodes. LYNX is the bus service that the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority runs – and it plans to place QR Codes on bus stops to give travellers better access to times and schedule information.
What’s the story?
The LYNX bus system services three counties in central Florida: Orange, Osceola and Seminole. The agency has been around since 1931, and now has almost 300 buses running on 65 routes. It seems the new QR Code system was the pet project of recently departed CEO, Linda Watson. The trial is going ahead regardless of her departure.
How does it work?
A selected number of bus stops are going to have a large, clearly visible QR Codes placed on them. Any commuter with a smartphone will be able to scan that code, and be provided with a schedule and map for every bus servicing that stop. There are also plans for the code to show you precisely how far away their next bus is, and how long it will take to arrive.
It may have something to do with the planned commuter and high-speed rail systems for the region. LYNX will be running feeder services for the new rails, and almost certainly wants to modernise to keep abreast. It also seems that this is being done in-house by the Transportation Authority – there’s no mention anywhere of a barcoding company being involved.
What we think?
This is going to be a small deployment of barcodes, but I feel that it’s a highly significant one. There are a rapidly increasing number of stories about brands using barcodes for advertising in numerous industries – but still relatively few about barcodes being used for public services. It does happen, like the recent NYC placement of barcodes on garbage trucks, it just doesn’t happen very often. And there’s a pretty good reason for this: the vast majority of the public doesn’t have smartphones. Maybe there’s a much higher % of smartphone ownership in the three Florida counties in question, but it seems doubtful that a huge portion of the bus-using population will actually be able to use this service.
Nevertheless, I’m always heartened by stories of barcodes being used for tacit or public services. It’s a fantastic way for local (or higher) government to maintain contact and spread information with the populace. As smartphones drop in price and become more commonly owned, I think we’ll see an proportional increase in the use of barcodes.
Source: The Orlando Sentinel