Pigeon crowdsourced transit app experiment is shutting down

JC Torres - Jun 11, 2020, 7:54am CDT
Pigeon crowdsourced transit app experiment is shutting down

Google is notorious for making experiments that it eventually shuts down, regardless of the popularity of said experiment. That’s especially true with apps or software where the investment and costs are far lower than with physical products. Of late, however, Google has mostly relegated those app experiments to its Area 120 skunkworks team and it is indeed permanently shutting down one such project but not exactly on a whim.

Google’s Area 120 launched Pigeon half a year ago to do what transport systems or apps able to do, especially in reel-time. In a nutshell, the app allows commuters to communicate with others the various states and conditions of trains and buses, alerting them of potential delays, congestion, and other factors that could affect their travel time. It’s pretty much like a Waze’s crowdsourced reporting except applied to public transportation.

Public transportation, however, has been significantly less stable and less consistent these days all thanks to COVID-19 countermeasures. Some places have put public transit on hold or have limited passenger capacity to implement physical distancing practices. In other words, there isn’t much sense for Pigeon to keep operating.

The sad part for Pigeon’s users, however, is that Area 120 doesn’t have any plans to resume the app once public transportation is back on track. It gives no explanation why other than it’s a normal occurrence with Area 120 experiments. Few ever live on to become more permanent apps.

One thing Pigeon users should take note of is that all their data will be permanently deleted on July 24, 2020. If they ever wanted a copy of the data the app collected on them, they should do so from the app before it shuts down on June 24.


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