THE PROBLEM: Public transportation in South Africa has a reputation for being unreliable. Trains, particularly Metrorail, and buses are often delayed without informing users — resulting in a ‘communication blackout’ whereby citizens do not know how or when they will be able to reach their intended destination. Workers are put at risk of being late to work and potentially losing their job. Mothers are late to pick up their kids from school and students who transport themselves miss class because of unexpected transportation glitches. Communication blackouts therefore have a negative impact on the lives of people who rely on public transport.

 

There is no direct way to make trains and buses run on schedule without transforming the entire public transport system in South Africa.This is because there are a vast array of reasons why public transport systems delay–all of which are beyond the control of an individual traveler.

 

THE INSIGHT: You cannot change the rate it takes a train or bus to reach you, but if people knew about delays it would case less inconvenience.

 

THE CHALLENGE: How might we improve access to information about delayed schedules and make public transport systems more reliable without physically altering any train, metroline, or bus?

 

THE SOLUTION: GoMetro is an app that generates satellite and user-generated live updates and schedules of public transportation systems, letting users know the quickest and safest route to reach their destination. It closes the communication blackout by allowing users of the app to access live schedule updates as well as generate their own content and communicate with other travelers, making the overall public transport system more transparent.

 

THE IMPACT: Because GoMetro’s system is integrated into Metrorail’s control centre and train monitoring systems, the data is never older than 15 minutes. With live updates, GoMetro users can save time by finding alternative modes of transportation if they can spot a delay in their current mode of transport. GoMetro is working to give commuters dignity once again by decreasing their chances of being late; it is also connecting cities much more efficiently.

 

THE INNOVATOR: Justin Coetzee is the mastermind behind GoMetro. Read Justin’s interview with itwebafrica here.

Learn more about GoMetro here.

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