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GeekWire Photo Illustration/Image via Shutterstock
GeekWire Photo Illustration/Image via Shutterstock.

Amazon is experimenting with all sorts of ways to deliver packages, using everything from drones to everyday people. But this is a new one.

An Amazon patent application, made public today, describes a plan for delivering packages via public transit — turning buses, trains, subways and other vehicles into roaming pickup locations.

One scenario described in the patent is essentially an Amazon Locker on wheels, installed inside or attached to the outside of a bus, train or other form of transit. Customers who ride a particular route regularly could opt to have a package delivered to their preferred bus, to retrieve while they’re riding. Or those in a specific area could choose to pick up their package at a bus stop, receiving a text message when their item is approaching.

That latter option could be especially useful in rural villages and other areas “where carriers for delivering items are rare or prohibitively expensive,” the filing says.

From the patent application, here’s an example of the options that would be available to a user when purchasing an item.


This would be different from the way Amazon has been using New York subways to speed up its Prime Now one-hour urban deliveries. In that case, Amazon’s delivery people are themselves using public transit as a faster way to deliver packages directly to the customer.

The approach described in the patent application is similar in some ways to Amazon’s “Treasure Truck,” which plans to let people order a specific deal online for later pickup while the Treasure Truck is at a preset location. The rollout of the Treasure Truck in Seattle was abruptly delayed in June, without explanation, and has yet to be revived.

The patent application for “Mobile Pickup Locations” was originally submitted in February of 2014, and made public earlier today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. GeekWire discovered the filing via the Sqoop news alert service.

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