Of the many pains a city bus can inflict—from the stop-and-go ride to the eye-to-armpit interaction—the harshest is the wait. Unsympathetic as they often seem, transit agencies don't enjoy this situation any more than riders do. A long enough wait might drive some people to drive, which not only creates more traffic for buses to wade through but reduces revenue that might go toward better service.
Unless an agency has enough money to invest in more frequent service, their options for reducing those frustrating waits are limited. Fortunately, one of the newest tools at their disposal is proving to be an extremely effective one. Real-time transit data—and the mobile applications that use it to tell riders where a bus is at any given moment—is changing the waiting game in ways that experts are only starting to measure in hard numbers.