SEATTLE -- Anyone who has ever waited at a bus stop is familiar with that anxiety bus riders feel, wondering if the bus is running behind and whether they'll be late to their destination.
But wonder no more. The answer is just a cell phone call away.
Brian Ferris is a bus rider and a computer science graduate student who knows something most bus riders don't -- exactly when the next Metro bus will arrive. He designed software that links Metro's existing bus tracking system to cell phones in order to take the guessing game out of waiting.
"You can see the full list of stops arriving," he said.
The program, OneBusAway.org, gives real-time arrival information on buses via voice or text message.
Bus rider Linda Mullen wishes she could have utilized OneBusWay.org earlier this winter when snow canceled and rerouted a number of buses, leaving many bus riders stranded in the cold. With this new program, Mullen said, she won't have to play the guessing game anymore.
"I could decide if I wait or walk, and make sure I know when to get to the bus," she said.
Ferris, who attends the University of Washington, can relate. It was his dislike of having to blindly wait for buses that drove him to come up with a solution.
"It's usually those days when it's rainy and traffic is bad that you don't want to be waiting for the bus longer than you have to," he said.
OneBusAway.org hasn't been a cash cow for Ferris. But Ferris is not discouraged; he considers it his act of community service.
"The gears that make the city run are not going to make money, but it's necessary to keep things going," he said.
There is one flaw with OneBusAway.org. If the program says "no service," there's no way for riders to know for sure if the bus isn't coming or if the bus driver just forgot to turn on the tracking device.
So far, OneBusAway.org is limited to King County service, but Ferris said he'd like to expand it to encompass transit agencies as well.