Pigeon is the American commuter’s best friend as it widens state support

Pigeon launches today in five new US locations. How is crowdsourced reporting helping ease daily commutes, and will it be expanding elsewhere any time soon?

What is Pigeon?

Pigeon is an app which allows real-time information sharing between commuters. The system is crowdsourced, which means that travellers share live news, updates and information. This is then available to any Pigeon user.

How was the app developed?

Launched in 2018 in New York, Pigeon was the brainchild of Laura Rokita, Project Lead for Pigeon Transit.

A New York commuter, Laura had the idea whilst waiting for a delayed train. She took the concept to Google’s Area 120 with her cofounder, and the rest is history!

Area 120 built the crowdsourced app, using the concept to allow real-time information sharing alongside collating all the data and scheduling from public transport providers within the city.

Public transport route planner showing delays
Pigeon allows commuters to plan their journeys avoiding delays. Image: Pigeon

How does Pigeon work?

App users are the information providers; this is what makes Pigeon different. It contains all the data about scheduled public transport, and then allows commuters to provide their own updates.

The reporting feature allows riders to advise of updates and delays as they happen. There is also the option of adding images and media.

Examples include overcrowded trains or platforms, breakdowns and diversions as they happen, and problems such as broken escalators. Particularly for travellers requiring mobility assistance, or unable to access a platform without an escalator or lift, this service could be absolutely invaluable.

This crowdsourced information sharing system allows travellers to provide information as it happens – without waiting for delays or problems to filter through to the transport provider.

Pigeon believes that this can ‘substantially improve daily commuting with real-time, crowdsourced data contributed by riders for riders’. Having spent years traversing the joys of TFL, I can’t believe nobody has thought of this before!

Mobile phone showing Pigeon app updates, with the Pigeon logos behind
Transit Heroes are regular commuters who share valuable information. Image: Pigeon

What is the community benefit of Pigeon?

Another aspect of Pigeon is bringing communities together. Until now, commuting has been a bizarrely solitary experience, despite the close proximity of multitudes of other people!

The idea is to make the daily grind a bit more fun. Sharing commiserations about problematic commutes helps ease the stress of coping with delays. Users have also started sharing humorous and interesting things they have encountered on their travels!

Pigeon are working to engage with commuters to understand more about their commute. With the focus on easing the stress of daily travel, this includes feedback about aspects such as which platforms are most susceptible to overcrowding, and which stations are unbearably hot in the summer.

All of this information has been collated into an NYC Subway Insights Report. Not only could this help commuters, but also educate public transport providers about ways in which they can improve their services.

Pigeon app screen showing live transport updates
Pigeon allows immediate, real-time information sharing. Image: Pigeon

Is there any reward for being a regular contributor?

To sweeten the deal, ‘Transit Heroes’ who regularly contribute have a few perks available.

Pigeon offers free Transit Hero merchandise such as bags, mugs and clothing. They are able to meet with a Pigeon Community Manager to understand the app better, suggest updates and have first access to new features.

There is a private community for Transit Heroes to engage and share their experiences, and events at the Google NYC campus they are invited to attend.

Where is Pigeon available?

Having launched in New York, Pigeon is from today available in five new US cities:

  • Chicago
  • Boston
  • San Francisco
  • DC
  • Los Angeles

Pigeon covers a spectrum of public transport. These vary from city to city, but include railways, ferry crossings, streetcars, buses and tram lines.

The app is available to download on the Apple App Store, and is set to be released in an Android version. You can join the waiting list for the Android app here. There is also the option to vote for the next city, so who knows which commuters might start finding their daily slog just that little bit easier!

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