OneBusAway was born of our frustration.
Anyone who rode public transportation in Seattle before 2008 remembers standing in the rain, wondering when the bus would come.
Two of those people were UW graduate students. Brian Ferris was in the UW Computer Science and Engineering program. Kari Watkins was in Civil and Environmental Engineering. The two merged their Ph.D. research projects to build a real-time tracking system for King County Metro bus riders, OneBusAway.
King County Metro already had real-time vehicle tracking technology for internal use, developed by UW Professor Dan Dailey. OneBusAway built a user-friendly interface on top of the real-time data so that any bus rider could access that information.
Things started small. Users had to call in by phone. Ferris hosted the entire program on a computer hidden under his desk. But the timing was perfect. More and more people started carrying smartphones in their pockets—ideal platforms for a mobile app that could tell them when the next bus was on its way. OneBusAway quickly became an essential tool for every transit-riding Seattleite.