I have a bus route - Route 7, the "Falmouth Flyer" - that can pick me up just two short blocks from my house and drop me off right at the end of the driveway at my workplace. The bus route is a straight shot to Falmouth, without any meandering detours. Better still, I can watch for the bus's approach in the morning through the windows of a coffee shop, and once I'm on board it's a scenic ride with ample views of Casco Bay.
Here are the drawbacks, though - it only runs once an hour, so if I miss it in the morning, I have to take the car, and if I miss it in the evening, I usually have to walk (for an hour) back home. Both of these scenarios have happened several times to me in the past year, even though I only ride the bus 2-3 times a month.
These drawbacks are substantial, and make me opt to ride my bike - so I don't have to worry about the bus schedule - instead on most days. I know that similar concerns and frustrations over missing a bus also keep a lot of other people from riding the bus - except the vast majority of those people drive a car instead of riding a bike.
But here's the thing - Portland's bus system actually has technology installed right now that could let me know exactly when the bus is coming, and how far away it is. For the past year or so, all of Portland and South Portland's METRO buses have had mobile GPS units running and communicating with their central dispatch offices.
So theoretically, instead of waiting in the ditch for ten minutes in the rain, and wondering the whole time if I might have already missed it because it was running unusually ahead of schedule, I could just get a text message on my phone when my bus is coming, and meet it right on time at the stop - even if the bus is running later, or earlier, than scheduled.
Or alternatively, my employer could buy a $100 internet-enabled screen, and use it to display estimated arrival and departure times for Route 7 at our bus stop. Here's a demo of how that could work: