February marked one year since the launch of OneBusAway’s StopInfo feature, a web-based collection of information about bus stops that was created to help visually-impaired transit riders locate stops. While the basic data about bus stops in the application came from King County Metro, the rest is contributed by transit riders in the community using the OneBusAway iOS app or the website. StopInfo will also be incorporated into the next release of OneBusAway Android.

Shows a person entering information about a bus stop as she stands waiting for the bus.
   A transit rider adds information about a stop to StopInfo while she waits. (Photo belongs to me.)

Over the past year, transit riders have submitted information for over 1000 unique bus stops in the Seattle area, and the numbers are still climbing. But as with any contribution-based project where the information collected is subject to change over time, maintaining a stable level of contributions is crucial toward long-term adoption and success. That’s why my research team at the University of Washington has been focused on learning what motivates people to contribute, and adding in features that support these values and motives. For example, an initial study discovered that sense of community was important to many contributors, and therefore are working on a feature that allows contributors to respond to direct requests for information from other community members.

If you’d like to give your own input on what might matter to you when contributing information, or suggest potential new features for StopInfo, we have created a form for feedback here. It takes about 20 minutes to complete, and also includes a chance to win a $50 gift card of your choice. Feel free to pass it on to other transit riders (near or far) as well!

We’ve appreciated all of the help that Seattle Transit Blog readers have offered us in the past, and want to ensure that this project remains a community-driven effort. As we’ve started to see recently, speaking out in support of better information tools can benefit developers, transit agencies, and Seattle-area riders alike.

7 Replies to “Maintaining StopInfo: Rider Contributions Matter”

  1. Good work Caitlin. Are you aware of a company called Humanware? http://www.humanware.com sells various products for the visually impaired including a portable GPS called “Trekker Breeze.” The maps on the trekker breeze include transit stop info, however there are a few limitations such as… the stop location in the unit maybe a hundred feet or so away from your true location, or the bus system in your area isn’t covered.

    1. Indeed, I have! I shadowed an Orientation and Mobility lesson once where the student was using a Trekker Breeze — they do seem pretty handy but (as you pointed out) they are sometimes off, particularly when in a crowded area like downtown. Another problem is that they’re expensive ($700…. eesh!). We’d eventually like to work on using this information for wayfinding, and hope we can do that without solely relying on accuracy of GPS location.

      1. Fantastic! I’ve had mine since Sept. 2013 & despite it’s flaws, it still works well. Let me add that I have a great sense of direction, but in some situations it has come in handy. BTW it has been discounted by $200, but not recently.

  2. I tried last night to contribute through the web interface, but I couldn’t load any specific stop. Is there a bug in the web interface?

    1. I just checked it out, and I think it crashed last night due to increased traffic. We’ll have to fix that! Anyway, try again and let me know if you still have problems.

      1. I got the same problem as last night: I go to the homepage, type in “148th and 40th”, click on “Find Stop,” and nothing happens. The browser keeps spinning without actually loading anything.

      2. Hm, weird! You’re right — something seems to have happened to the address search. I’ll try and get to the bottom of it. For now, if you happen to know the stop number, that appears to be working. Thanks for discovering this! We’ve mostly worked on the iOS interface for our study, so we’ll need to put in more work into the Web front.

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