Responding to rider complaints about buses missing the notoriously short lights of Washington DC, the DC Metro is looking to use a newly developed transponder to help the system move more efficiently. Though currently installed on a select number of express buses, DDOT hopes to expand the technology to its entire fleet in the coming years.

Unlike the more common infrared emitters used by police cars and ambulances, the DC system will not automatically change red lights to green, but instead hold green lights several seconds to allow buses to pass. This allows buses to stop once, shortening travel times up to twenty percent along an entire line. As more receivers are installed in the District, more lines will adopt the new technology.

While the media focuses on the big changes in technology that will revolutionize transportation, in the real world small scale adjustments can make profound differences in the way we live. Little boxes filled with wires may ultimately do more for the environment than all the unfulfilled talk about exotic solutions that remain castles in the sky.