If we can make public transit more convenient, more people will ride public transit. More people riding public transit equals less driving. Less driving equals a healthier planet.
January 13, 2010 1:04 PM   Subscribe

City-Go-Round is a website that gathers reviews of transit-related mobile apps. It's also trying to shame the 670 transit authorities it knows of who don't have open data (versus a paltry 97 that do) into releasing it by listing them and asking its users to petition the head of each one. (From FrontSeat, the same folks who brought you Walk Score [previously] and the Predatory Lending Association [previously].)
posted by ocherdraco (13 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
A nice idea, but for 'Winnipeg public transit apps' it lists Walk Score, Google Maps, and a couple of mobile apps, none of which have any Winnipeg data in them. If an app/website uses data from "all public transit agencies with open data" and my city doesn't have open data, why are they bothering showing me these useless results?

(Also, does Google Maps really need to be listed under the Transit, Walking, and Driving sections on every single results page?)
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 1:15 PM on January 13, 2010

Meant to add: Are there any cities that aren't in Google Maps? I can haz three-minute edit window?
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 1:16 PM on January 13, 2010

Seems sort of remiss to not mention that the largest transit agency in North America, the MTA, open their data up to the public today. http://www.mta.info/developers/. This is a huge endorsement of open transit data.
posted by GuyZero at 1:55 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

If the fucking car drivers can have galaxy-wide, everybody-pays-for-it subsidies for the upkeep of infrastructure only they use, I completely fail to understand why Public Transit can't have the same thing. Open data is nice, but if you're going to charge me $3 to step on a bus that only comes every half an hour because not too many people ride the bus, and another $3 to go home again, your open data hasn't solved a problem I have. Public Transit should be a side-effect of living in an urbanized region that everyone benefits from. And if there are so many buses, street cars and moving sidewalks that you can't squeeze a private vehicle in edgewise, then GOOD.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:28 PM on January 13, 2010 [4 favorites]

The MTA in NYC gets something like $2B of its $11B budget from state subsidies. I think there's a bunch of federal subsidy as well but I can't fid the exact number right now.

Pretty much every public transit agency in north america gets a significant proportion of its operating budget from local, state or federal government subsidies. Pretty much all of them would shut down if they lost their subsidies. Plus a lot of buses drive on roads.
posted by GuyZero at 2:52 PM on January 13, 2010

I'm a huge fan of icommute sf lite on the iPhone. It's the first app that really shows the promise of making the choice to use transit transparent. Basically you start the app, it figures out where you are and tells you the closest bus stops and when the next buses will arrive at them.

It's nice since you can be in the middle of the city where you are not familiar with the buses and get a good feeling of where to go.

I know it takes me 3 minutes to get to the stop near my house, and there are 3 bus lines that stop there. The app makes it braindead simple to see when I need to leave.

Everyone seems to have departure data but no one seems to show arrival data.

For example: I've love to see that the 22 bus arrives in 3 minutes and is expected to take 33 minutes to get you to your destination.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 3:55 PM on January 13, 2010

What you want is NextBus and it costs a bajillion dollars to implement, it's complex and they generally retain ownership of the data they generate on departure & arrival time.

On the flip side, it's magic and works great.

the icommute app is basically just a UI for NextBus data. SF has made this data publicly available but that's not true for every agency.
posted by GuyZero at 3:59 PM on January 13, 2010

Basically you start the app, it figures out where you are and tells you the closest bus stops and when the next buses will arrive at them.

Google Maps Mobile can do this in a few hundred places but it's limited to static schedule data so it doesn't know if your bus is late or early.
posted by GuyZero at 4:00 PM on January 13, 2010

one bus away for seattle is the fucking bomb. sounds a lot like the app bottlebrushtree is talking about for sf. it shows you where all the bus stops are around you google map style and then once you choose a stop it lists all the busses arriving there within an hour, when they are scheduled to arrive and when they will actually be there based on gps data or perhaps magical fairy dust. i dont know. i do know that if one bus away says the #7 will be outside my house at 10:17 it arrives at 10:17.
posted by Glibpaxman at 10:51 PM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

In Switzerland, we have the SBB with an iPhone app that works quite well (sometimes it's cranky). I can even buy tickets over my phone, or upgrades to first class. (I don't buy tickets, I have an annual pass for the whole country. Occasionally I buy upgrades).

The sites that use the SBB data are fabulous. One with a map, and also the SBB's own site. The map lets you click on a stop (bus, tram, train, even cable cars up the mountains) and where you're going or coming from, and get a full schedule showing options.

Oh, the SBB application also finds my location and shows me the nearest stops. That's the part that's usually problematic (which I think is largely because iPhone is a little slow to update the location data going to the app, but the app has issues when selecting a stop from that list).

To me, not having open data is an absurdity, even a crime against the planet. But I'm happy to stick with absurd. It's PUBLIC transit. The data has no value except for getting people to use the transit. Making it public allows for that better than not. Duh.
posted by Goofyy at 5:30 AM on January 14, 2010

OneBusAway now has a Google Code site. Awesome!
posted by zamboni at 9:11 AM on January 14, 2010

So are these just a collection of public transit Iphone apps, or do they cover Android?
posted by gryftir at 8:31 PM on January 14, 2010

I think they cover anything they know about. Most I saw were iPhone apps, but there were also Blackberry and Palm. I assume there are Android apps kicking around in there, too.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:08 AM on January 15, 2010

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