Have you ever struggled to catch a minibus to or from campus? It’s why a new “Finding Mini” app has been developed by HKUST alumni Jason Yuen, Simon Tsang, and current student Gash Tsui.
“We deploy GPS module on each minibus, and sophisticated data algorithms developed by ourselves, with factors including weather, fluctuations of traffic, and real-time traffic conditions,” says Simon.
While KMB buses already had an app for arrival times, the green minibuses did not. “We were very frustrated by this situation, because we could not compare arrival times between the double decker and minibus arrival times in Choi Hung, and the stops are on different ends of the street,” says Jason.
In the beginning there were some teething problems. “Some drivers didn’t know we were running tests by smart phones and thought someone had left their phone on the minibus, taking them to the Lost and Found! So when we computed the data, we wondered why the ‘bus’ was in the minibus head office,” says Simon.
Some minibus drivers were also concerned about privacy issues, and the team switched from cameras to infra-red to gather data on number of passengers. Other obstacles included the change of routes without announcement.
The team are widely approached by HKUST Campus Service Office, The Hong Kong Transport Department and HKT. They are having discussion with HKUST Campus Service Office on implementing their estimated time of arrival system on all 45 minibuses coming to HKUST.
At the heart of “Finding Mini” is this drive to change society for the better. “We are doing something really big, but try to imagine if we can install this across all the Hong Kong green minibuses, how many passengers are we impacting every day?” says Jason.