Commuting by bus in Mexico City is not for the faint of heart.

There are more than 1,000 bus routes that wind their way through the city’s meandering streets, many of which are more or less unofficial and established by popular demand.

While a public transit agency does manage a select few rapid-bus lines in the city, the vast majority of the buses – upwards of 25,000 of them – are operated by private concessionaires. Routes change frequently as private bus owners seek out new passengers and take detours to avoid traffic. Unless you’re a long-time resident of Mexico City, getting around by bus can be near impossible.

After struggling for years to make a comprehensive map of the city’s bus routes, city officials have finally found a solution; crowd sourcing.

Over the course of the past month, the Mexico City’s Mobility Department has been releasing a mobile app called Mapatón CDMX to bus riders that will use geolocation to gather data about the routes they take.

  • As an incentive to use the app, participating riders will have chances to win prizes during the data collection.
  • In addition to tracking the trajectory of bus routes, the app will also collect data about ticket prices and stop locations.

The same technology was has been used in the past to map the bus system in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It was originally developed by a team at MIT.

The app will gather data for just over two weeks between January 29 and February 14. The results will be made available in an open database in late February. Thanks to the power of crowd sourcing, Mexico City will have its bus map in a matter of weeks rather than years.