Community Transit is working on an online tool called BusFinder that will bring predicted bus arrival times and real-time service alerts to its riders. BusFinder is part of CT’s transit technology project that has installed GPS tracking onboard its buses and upgraded its radio system, enabling user-friendly features such as automatic stop announcements and real-time arrival signs at Swift stations and transit centers.
No launch date has been given for BusFinder as CT wants to be confident that the tool works accurately and reliably. When it does launch it will be available over the phone and on desktops and mobile devices. The service will provide information for Community Transit buses and Sound Transit buses operated by CT.
One feature of BusFinder that I am excited about is showing service alerts relevant to your stop. This is especially important when you’re on the move and in a hurry. OneBusAway has supported service alerts for years but operators like Metro have not implemented them.
What about OneBusAway? BusFinder won’t work with OneBusAway, yet, at least not at launch. Community Transit is aware of the need for integrating its real-time information with OneBusAway and providing a data feed to developers. Community Transit spokesman Martin Munguia explains:
A couple years ago, when we started working with our technology vendor, INIT, on a real-time bus information tool, OneBusAway was in a state of flux. It was a graduate student project at UW with an uncertain future. So we moved in the direction of developing our own tool through the vendor.
We are glad that Sound Transit has taken over control of OneBusAway to keep the project alive for Puget Sound transit users. We look forward to continue our relationship with OBA, but at this time we will have to defer the question of real-time integration for some months after we have launched BusFinder so we can focus on making sure this is a quality product for those who ride Community Transit buses and the Sound Transit buses we operate.
The same is true of providing real-time data for developers. That requires a robust streaming process that we have not had time to focus on while still developing BusFinder. After this project is out the door and working well, we will definitely turn our attention to the integration and data stream questions.