The MBTA system is infamous for its slow travel times, long waits, frequent delays and constant screeching noises that suggest the possibility of impending doom. The current system is built on foundations dating back to the 1890s, making it the oldest rail system in the United States.
As such, the possibility of a new public transportation system, built around the needs of the customers themselves,
has received an overwhelming and enthusiastic response. Bridj, a start-up luxury bus service, has received press attention for its data-driven business plan. After the company posted on its Facebook page looking for 350 volunteers to test the service, over 1,000 applicants submitted responses, with a total of over 3,000 requests by the next week.
With Bridj, the home and work addresses from its users are stored, as well as information from Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter, to create routes that meet the demands of the customers in real-time. The bus routes will also be able to adjust to big events, for example Red Sox games or concerts. The more people who use the service, the more accurate and responsive the data, and therefore the service will be.
The idea for Bridj came from Matthew George, a 23-year-old Middlebury College grad, who wanted to create a “living, breathing” public transportation system. With the city of Boston full of college students, including over 40% of whom don’t have a car, the city is a prime market for a product aimed at delivering reliable and cheap transportation.
Bridj trips will be between $5 and $8 to start, which is more expensive than a T ride, but less expensive than a taxi or Uber. As the company becomes more popular, the prices will look to go down to approximately $3 or $4, less than $2 more than a standard T ride. Meanwhile, the MBTA recently raised its fare prices by 10 cents, meaning a single subway ride with a Charlie Card now costs $2.10.
While the MBTA is currently undergoing renovations and expecting to implement more updates in the next several years, Bridj could be posed to provide a viable alternative. Additionally, if it thrives in Boston, Bridj has the potential to expand to other cities where people are looking for an improvement over the current public transportation.