Vancouver, Canada-based TransLink’s investments in communications technology are bringing a new benefit for transit customers: more certainty in planning their trips from knowing exactly when a bus will leave a given stop. NextBus, part of TransLink’s mobile site, m.translink.ca, is now fully operational, providing “predictive” departure times and real-time bus locations.
By knowing the exact, rather than scheduled, departure time of their buses, customers can plan their trips with greater ease and confidence.
Real-time NextBus is the latest in a variety of tools TransLink has introduced over the past several years to keep its customers informed and engaged, including Trip Planner and the use of Twitter (@translink).
With real-time NextBus, a customer can obtain the location of their next bus in a number of ways: using the unique bus stop code – the five-digit yellow number printed on each bus stop sign, by keying in an intersection, searching by bus route number or even using the GPS on their smart phone. The system then takes the customer to a street map showing the bus stop and the actual departure times of upcoming buses. Real-time NextBus also indicates cancelled trips or stops. Information is received either on a street map or in “Text View,” which uses less data.
NextBus is not a smart phone application (app), but a website that can be accessed from a desktop or laptop computer, Android 2.3 smart phones, iPhones and newer versions of BlackBerry. Users of older BlackBerries (without the touch keyboard) may find the “Text View” function works best.
In the months to come, the NextBus SMS service will be upgraded to show real-time departures as well, Google Transit will include real-time information, and data will be made available to developers to come up with smart phone apps of their own.