4 ways in which iBeacons can improve public transport


23rd January 2020


3 min


Sarat Pediredla

Public transport has always been considered as a cornerstone of any great city. Over the decades‚ these systems have continuously evolved to enable better access and to provide a better user experience. Various forms of technology have enabled transport providers to enhance the experiences they provide.

Bus stops‚ for example‚ have changed over the decades from being just a bench on the side of a street to bus shelters with digital clocks counting down the time to the arrival of the next bus; payments for fares have changed from using coins or notes to purchase tickets to using cards that can be preloaded with money to purchase tickets for travel.

Smartphones have accelerated innovation in quite a few industries‚ public transport being one of them. Mobile applications enable users to keep up with public transport schedules‚ which help users to plan their travel and to avoid spending time waiting for the next bus or train to arrive. Although these advances have created a better experience for users of public transport‚ we are still at an early stage in terms of possible innovations within this industry‚ especially when considering the potential impacts of smartphones and smart technologies.

iBeacons offer tremendous possibilities in this sector and can enable transport authorities to provide better experiences to transport users. Here are four ways in which this technology can improve any public transport experience: 

1. Currently‚ users either pay by cash or cards to gain access to transport facilities. This works fine‚ but in an age of making payments using cards‚ smartphones and digital currencies‚ it is futile to expect users to carry cash (especially coins) to purchase tickets. This can be solved by installing iBeacon-enabled devices at payment gates that enable users to simply pay through an application on their smartphone. Users could preload credits or cash onto the application via online transactions‚ or the application could be directly linked to users’ debit/credit cards for instant payment for tickets.

2. Currently‚ bus stops and train stations have incorporated digital clocks to show the estimated times of arrival for buses/trains. However‚ all of this information is mostly available to users on arrival at the platform or bus stop. If trains and buses were equipped with iBeacon devices alongside platforms and bus stops‚ users could accurately identify when each train/bus leaves the last station‚ and they could move towards the platform in time for its arrival.

3. Sometimes when travelling‚ users do not really know which bus or train to take to reach a particular destination. Users end up spending a lot of time either asking people or transport drivers‚ or they spend time searching boards or online listings for details. While most people do find results‚ some individuals do not know the names of areas‚ bus stops or metro stations‚ so they have problems asking for information. With iBeacon devices available onboard buses and trains‚ users can simply walk up to them and receive notification regarding where a particular bus/train will take them.

4. Similarly‚ most individuals spend quite a lot of time concentrating on whether or not their station or stop has arrived. With the assistance of iBeacon technology‚ users can receive alerts when their station or stop arrives; therefore‚ in the meantime‚ they can just sit back and enjoy their ride without having to worry about possibly missing their station or stop. Furthermore‚ this could assist visually-impaired as well as hearing-impaired users to identify their destinations without having to rely on third party assistance.