Community Transit has begun a public beta test of a new trip planning interface on its website using the OpenTripPlanner system. The trip planning website will be able to provide real-time departure information and service alerts for Community Transit routes and integrate with other regional agencies, including Everett Transit, Metro, and Sound Transit, in a manner similar to the current trip planner.
The beta trip planner uses a modern map interface similar to Google Maps, putting destinations first and collapsing time and mode options. The current trip planner puts all of these options at equal importance on the launch screen, which isn’t as intuitive for users. The current interface also requires an extra screen for most addresses to confirm which city they are in, while the beta interface uses a simple drop-down box for suggestions as the user types.
The beta trip planner is also able to mix modes, adding a personal bike or use of a park-and-ride for extra flexibility. This comes in handy for some trips that would otherwise have an extremely short or slow bus connection to reach a high-frequency hub, or is out of range for buses but is in easy driving distance to a park-and-ride lot. As a bonus, the bicycling and walking options also include an estimate of calories burned for those who need some extra encouragement to add an active segment to their commute.
The trip planner is also able to use real-time arrivals data from Community Transit’s in-house BusFinder tracker to better plan around delays and other interruptions to service. The beta trip planner would also be compatible with a potential future mobile app (though one would hope that a regional trip-planner would be included in an ORCA NextGen app) and integrate other edge cases like private bike and scooter rental services.
The beta trip planner uses OpenTripPlanner (OTP), an open-source trip planning framework that has been in development for over a decade. It uses General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data displayed over OpenStreetMap, an open-source mapping website that is edited by users in a manner similar to Wikipedia. OTP was funded with a seed grant from TriMet and has since been adopted by the agency, as well as SEPTA in Philadelphia, Ruter in Oslo, and HSL in Helsinki, among others.
The beta trip planner is available to try out on desktop and mobile at newtripplanner.communitytransit.org, where comments can also be left at the feedback tab. The current trip planner also remains available for those who want to try a straight comparison between results.