Buses are great. Buses offer a clean alternative to driving. And you never know when they're coming.
Many cities have acknowledged this problem and offer open APIs with real-time bus data. This is crucial, as any bus rider knows that buses rarely arrive on time, because, unlike subways, buses are dependent on traffic and delays caused by riders. But it's also a hindrance to taking the bus: who wants to wait at a lonely bus stop, which is subject to the elements and may not be safe? Not to mention boring.
Tapping into London's Countdown service, which displays live bus data, John Graham-Cumming created a simple bus monitor shaped, naturally, like an actual London bus. The bus uses a hacked Linksys wireless router that Graham-Cumming outfitted with a custom Linux setup. The LED then taps into data for the next two buses and adds two minutes for walk time to the actual station.
Complete instructions are available for hacking a Linksys wifi router to interface directly with live bus data and display it on an LED.
Graham-Cumming has made the project open-source, with complete instructions for setting it up, including how to take apart the bus model to fit the LED. If you live in a city with open transportation data, you could create a custom one, with or without the bus model.
I could see this device in a coffee shop or bar near a bus stop, thus encouraging riders to come in and patronize the store without worrying about missing their bus. It could even be customized for, say, a 5 minute walk, if the shop is a bit farther away. More adventurous hackers could create a multi-display unit for different bus lines too.