Bumped.in gives you an excuse to chat up fellow commuters

Bumped.in social network for travelersEver wish you could strike up a conversation with that cute redhead on the commuter train? Well, a startup called Bumped.in may finally give you the courage.

The service is a social network for daily commuters and travelers that shares similar features to the other social networks for travelers, like Dopplr, WorldMate and TripIt. It is especially similar to a service called SubMate, which is a social network for people taking the subway in various cities around the world. But Bumped.in specifically targets people who take the same ride often, ie. on a daily or a weekly basis.

When users sign up for Bumped.in and upload their profile (or hook up their Facebook profile, as the service uses Facebook Connect,) they can find other people who share similar interests on their journey, or at the destination.

Kiran Patel, CEO of Bumped.in, says the service was born out of personal experience. He commutes daily to New York City’s Penn Station from New Jersey and sees the same people on the train every day. “These people are familiar strangers to me, and I’m always eager to know more about them and interact with them. And I’ve seen many times two people sitting next to one another, reading a book by the same author, sharing the same interest but not talking to each other because they lack a medium which would allow them to connect,” Patel explained. Right now the service is intended for people taking train rides and flights, the idea being that there’s plenty of time to kill.

It seems the obvious thing would be to put down the book and actually talk to a person instead of fiddling with a phone or a laptop, but the service has many more use cases than just hooking up on the Caltrain, according to Patel. The service could be used to find people to assist passengers who are not used to traveling or don’t speak the language of their destination, or to help business travelers connect while on their way to a conference. In addition, the service provides a means for users to share media like photos while they’re traveling, get information on their travel destination, browse hotels and so on.

Patel has bootstrapped his one-man startup to date. He founded the company in New Jersey in December of 2009 and is now launching the service as a web application. An iPhone app is in the works, he says. Patel plans to make money through advertising, tie-ins with brands and sponsorships from the travel industry, such as airlines.