How long until BARTmonster?
July 14, 2005 7:18 PM   Subscribe

Seattle Bus Monster : a project that combines the resources of Google Maps, realtime public transit data provided by the Intelligent Transportation Systems at the University of Washington, and King County's online bus trip planner and does it right. It is refreshing exhilarating to see an application designed so well. It doesn't seem to work on Safari yet. Links to project's blog and summary of features.
posted by fatllama (28 comments total)
*jaw drops*

Thank you, fatllama! SO much more usable than the trip planner! This goes on my link bar right now.
posted by gurple at 7:39 PM on July 14, 2005

Very very cool. I just moved to Seattle a week ago and was thinking of picking up a bus schedule today. No need to do that now.
posted by freshgroundpepper at 7:44 PM on July 14, 2005

You can see the buses moving on their routes in real time. Stupendous. I've never been to Seattle, but if their public transportation is anywhere near as spotty as it is in my town, this could be a godsend for local residents. I've occasionally waited nearly an hour for an errant bus (and why does that always happen in the worst weather)?

It would be nice to live in a city where the public transit service runs every few minutes, but until I do, I'd really, really like to see something like this where I live.
posted by 김치 at 7:44 PM on July 14, 2005

The bus system in Seattle is one of the best in the country. Unfortunately, that's pretty much all we've got (minus the Sounder regional commuter train).

Thanks for the link, though. This is going to be extremely useful for me.
posted by ryanhealy at 7:52 PM on July 14, 2005

Nice. Did you see how they incorporated the cameras? Great use of the interface!
posted by mr_roboto at 7:53 PM on July 14, 2005

The concept has merit.
posted by y2karl at 8:06 PM on July 14, 2005

We have even more data available in SF, pretty please will someone make this for us?
posted by cali at 8:11 PM on July 14, 2005

So much better than Metro's trip planner - thanks!
posted by aaronscool at 8:59 PM on July 14, 2005

Please note this site is still very new and may have bugs. Don't cry over missed buses.

This is a class act. Wahoo!
posted by warbaby at 9:41 PM on July 14, 2005

Oh, this is so bomb. Goes right in my bookmarks, even though I rarely ride the bus. My thanks go out to the creators and fatllama for sharing it!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:52 PM on July 14, 2005

This is genuinely a godsend.

Here in Seattle, I don't drive, and rely on the bus for the vast majority of my transportation needs. With this site, King County Metro is now my bitch.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:54 PM on July 14, 2005

I have to bus everywhere I go these days and I can't put into words how cool it is to have my laptop next to my picture window watching buses move down the street in busview, then look up and see them driving by on the street right where busview says they are.
Now if they could only do this for wi-fi PDA's . . .
I seldom get wet when running for a bus from the house, and now with the new app, coolio, dude!
posted by mk1gti at 9:59 PM on July 14, 2005

Wow, that is really fantastic. I'm thinking of visiting Seattle soon, having that as a useable resource is great. First Seattle, then the world!
posted by Salmonberry at 10:03 PM on July 14, 2005

That is amazingly impressive. There's an almost zen-like meditative in sitting and watching the progress of a bus halfway around the world in a place I've never ever visited!

This, of course, is the true power of google maps: when they first released it, people went "Oooh, pretty! . . . Why?" But it's the API, and what people can do with it - that's the "Why", which is only limited now by people's imaginations. Of course, like the dotcom-induced products of yesteryear, most of the cool shit is very, very localised at the moment, but the good ideas will out and people in other places will look at this and think "We could do that too..."
posted by benzo8 at 10:09 PM on July 14, 2005

The bus system in Seattle is one of the best in the country.

Having lived in Seattle for 10 years, I'm gonna say that's a huge crock. Ever since I-695 got approved (which I remember working on the campaign against, vigorously, when I was 14) bus lines and service has been slashed. Good luck catching a bus on a sunday, late at night or if you want to go anywhere but downtown or the U-District. And God help you if you're handicapped and need public transportation.

I don't get why Seattlites seem to think their public transit is so good. I remember learning in my high school History class how Seattle was offered a federal grant to improve their public transit, and they turned it down. Atlanta snapped it up and built MARTA, which is amazingly better than anything Seattle will be able to build at this point, extended monorail or not.

Oh yeah, good luck with the monorail. I mean it. Hopefully it will be better than Ogdenville's.
posted by piratebowling at 10:14 PM on July 14, 2005

Sorry, with all that snark I forgot to mention, this is a great service.
posted by piratebowling at 10:15 PM on July 14, 2005

Thank you for this. It's amazing. I can see a bus stop through my office window; I've been clicking its map-flag for ETAs and the buses have passed by right on schedule. I feel like a god, I tell you. A pathetic, time-wasting god.
posted by Superfrankenstein at 11:00 PM on July 14, 2005

I've got to echo piratebowling. Seattle public transit is pure, unadulterated ass. It takes for-ever to get anywhere. There's a handful of lines that run constantly, so if you need those, you're set -- but if you have to get anywhere else, it takes a long, long time. I was really surprised when I went to NYC and found -- gasp -- public transportation that was actually USEFUL and could get you somewhere in some sane amount of time.

HOWEVER, echoing piratebowling again, this is a cool site.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 1:34 AM on July 15, 2005

I must admit, I don't get it. How is this actually useful? How frequest are Seattle's buses? Every three hours or something?
posted by salmacis at 2:32 AM on July 15, 2005

I'll go along with piratebowling, I've had to use the service for almost twenty years now and it really blows, and I live right in the middle of it's prime transportation center.
Especially in outlying areas you are screwed, screwed, screwed.
And who the hell thought up the bright idea of bus benches but no shelters? Hello, we live in *Seattle* for cripsake!
The schedules are all screwy too, and most of all, in the outlying areas the service is just completly useless.
Good luck getting people to ride the bus out there when they have to wait half an hour or longer in the rain with no shelter for a bus.
And then of course there's the monorail, always talked about, never built . .
And then of course there are the drivers, those of heavy foot on the brakes throwing passengers around every which way, cutting off who knows how many cars causing accidents, I could write a book about how lousy Seattle's bus drivers are . . .
posted by mk1gti at 7:54 AM on July 15, 2005

Try living in some midwest city like St Louis, and you'll gain a new appreciation for the Seattle bus system... No, it's no san fran or NYC, but it's something....considering how much the initiative fans have attacked it's funding source, I consider the job they do amazing. Add in all the crazy bus craziness that goes on here.

And mk1gti, the bus has the right of way when entering traffic ALWAYS, it's the special law referenced on the yeild signs they have, so if you get in an accident with a bus, and they had their signal on, it's definetly your fault =p
posted by nomisxid at 9:32 AM on July 15, 2005

I think one's perception of the Seattle bus system depends completely on where in the city one lives and where one is going. I live in Greenwood, and I can get just about anywhere except Capitol Hill on one bus. The bus system rocks. If you live in, say, Ballard and work in, say, Rainier Beach, then the bus system sucks.

Also, depends on what you're comparing it to. I moved to Seattle from SF. Seattle's buses run ON TIME (nomisxid, I don't know why you think SF has such a great system, it took me an hour to get anywhere. But see above paragraph, probably the same effect). It's amazing! They generally run every 15 minutes during the day and about every 1/2 hour at night. This thing will keep me from waiting 25 minutes in the rain for a bus I just missed. I like it.

I seldom get wet when running for a bus from the house, and now with the new app, coolio, dude!

I agree completely. This tool is sweet enough to make me wet just THINKING about the bus! Uh, if I were female, I guess.
posted by gurple at 9:48 AM on July 15, 2005

It's a bit more complex than that, and what happens if you're on a bicycle, riding down the street when one of these things passes you, then angles over almost crushing you? Does that somehow make it right then?
As I said, much more than 'blinkin' blinkin' lights involved here.
Don't jump to conclusions.
posted by mk1gti at 10:16 AM on July 15, 2005

King County Metro is now my bitch.

*adds spinifex23 as muse in contacts list*
posted by fatllama at 10:30 AM on July 15, 2005

I've been wishing for something like this since I first tried Google Earth, but this is even better. Thanks, fatllama!
posted by Goblindegook at 2:52 PM on July 15, 2005

Very impressive interface. Completely and utterly useless to me, since I'm not in Seattle. But it's interesting to see what they've done, and to see the posibilities.
posted by raedyn at 3:09 PM on July 15, 2005

I like the busmonster ok, but it seemed to be buggy when I tried playing with it a month ago, whereas the real time tracker that the metro has had on their site since I moved up here about 8 months ago works wonderfully for me, though it wasn't the easiest to find on their site. Go to the Metro tracker and click on 'launch the application' near the bottom.
posted by line32 at 3:28 PM on July 15, 2005

Seattle's transit system is weird.

First, of all, there's four different systems that provide service in and out of Seattle - King County Metro, Community Transit, Pierce Transit, and Sound Transit. This isn't even including the light rail being built right now, and the ever controversial monorail issue. (Even though we already have a monorail. This is a different monorail. etc.)

Also, Seattle is very long and thin, with bodies of water interspersed in the city, as well as some of the most fucked topography I've ever seen. I mean, some of our sidewalks have steps built into it, they're so steep. I'm not going to even get into the budgetary issues. Considering what they have to work with, it's a miracle that we have a functioning system at all, much less one that encompasses all of King County. Some places are very easy to get to, like Capitol Hill, while some places are near impossible, like Harbor Island. (I just quit a job that was on Harbor Island because no bus goes there after 7am, and I can't drive. I am still bitter.)

The real time tracker is kind of pointless for those buses that run all the time, like the billions of electric trolley buses that clog downtown, but if you're going from Seattle, to, say, Puyallup, and the bus runs once an hour at peak time, it's a very useful tool.

*Finishes just as the 12 passes by my window*
posted by spinifex23 at 9:03 PM on July 15, 2005

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