Saturday, February 19, 2011

SMSMyBus by the numbers - a recap of the first year

It was about this time a year ago that I built the Madison transit app that delivers real-time arrivals estimates for Metro buses via text messages. Little did I realize that it would turn into such a fun adventure.

I took a look at the logs for the past 52 weeks. Here's SMSMyBus by the numbers...

Total number of users : 138
Total number of requests : 2900
Number of unique stops requested : 318
Most popular stop requested : 1878, Jenifer & Ingersoll

Below is a histogram of the requests each week, and the shape is curious. I've never marketed the service so it's only traveled by word of mouth. The cold weather likely led to the recent jump but I can't explain the general lumpiness throughout.

I also plotted all of the requests on a map using size to indicate the number of requests for each stop. If you're interested, you can explore the map more at

Total cost to me? It was a little more than $75 - all of it going towards costs associated with the SMS messaging (Twilio). With the rising popularity, I'd love your donations. Just press the 'donate' button on the site. :)


  1. Awesome stuff Greg.... I love reading about your experiments and ideas... Keep up the good work!

  2. Great work Greg. I admit to a number of those requests and would love to donate but keep getting a PayPal error: Sorry — your last action could not be completed. The PayPal product/donate page never comes up, so I'm assuming the issue maybe the link.

  3. Thank you Pete and Alnisa!I fixed the donation link. Now linking back to the website which has a donate button. Thanks!

  4. Just checking… is Softgrove you? Cause that's who it says my donation is going to.

  5. That's me... Thanks!

  6. Pretty cool app. I am in the transportation business. Anything else you have done in this field?

  7. At an average of 8 messages a day, you could run on Tropo's free developer platform forever and never pay a dime.

  8. Is the Jenni/Ingersoll stop's popularity tied to the service being provided by mother fools?

  9. @todd i'm not really a transit guy. i just wanted to build an app to improve my riding experience and found out that a lot of other people wanted it as well.@adam thanks for the tropo advertising. i'll be sure to calculate the CPM and send you the bill.@tim good question. the display at mother fools (and other like it) are not included in these numbers. i know that some of the heaviest users of the system live within a few blocks of that stop, however. and i'm pretty sure that's why it's so popular.