Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Public Access to Transit Data and Smarter Travel | Transit

Waiting at a bus stop in the Portland weather can be dreadful and timing your arrival to the stop without missing the bus can be challenging. Too many times I have rounded the corner at the end of my block to see Bus 19 trailing off in the distance. This results is an extra 15-20 minute wait. A few times I've been lucky enough to make the bus with a frantic and awkward run. With the rise of the smartphone, quick access to bus arrival times takes only seconds and missed buses are becoming a thing of the past. 

I currently use the ‘PDX Bus’ app on my iPhone. Making sure to give myself a few extra minutes just in case. With the app I am able to view rail maps, nearby stops, last known position, browse routes/stops, detours, trip planning, and a flashing screen feature for night time. This merging of technology and transit information is helping to improve the convenience of transit trips, which is a plus for alternative transportation.

In addition to smartphone apps, 23 year old Jason Brown created In an effort to help decrease wait times at a bus stops and prevent people from arriving moments too late. Visitors can view a live map of Trimet's buses and rail from their personal computer.

While relying on Trimet's smartphone apps has not always proved successful, I will say it helps to save time and stress. By making this type of information available to the public and developers, I believe this will help increase ridership.

Unfortunately this type of access is an equity issue. Not everyone has a smartphone, internet, or a computer. Fortunately, Trimet has implemented displays at some transit stops with arrival times. Hopefully they are able to expand this up-to-the-minute information at transit stops throughout Portland Metro.

In addition to transit tracking, Trimet is introducing the ability to pay with your smartphone coming this summer ( A nifty feature that I find more convenient than carrying exact change around.


1 comment:

  1. Since my phone isn't too smart, I use the Trimet displays when they are available. I wish that Trimet ran my bus line more frequently. I usually end up with a long wait and a huge crowd that joins me on the bus.


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