BreakingModern — The Transit App was my idea. The epiphany came to me one morning while waiting at the bus stop wondering whether I was too late to catch the 8:05, or if I was early and the bus late. I thought, Why don’t they put a GPS on these buses and then send out a signal so riders can see where their bus is and decide whether to continuing waiting. The light bulb for this idea went off at a cold bus stop about 20 years ago.
Of course, the problem all those years ago was how to display this GPS information. I was thinking the company could convert the bus stop signs into LCD displays — impractical and expensive I know, but I didn’t care. I was cold and just wanted to know if I should stay at the bus stop or go grab the car.
Jump ahead a couple of decades and technology has solved this problem with the smartphone. The Transit App is a must have for users of mass transit systems.
Catch the Bus
The Transit App is free and available for Android on Google Play and Apple iOS. The app currently contains mass transit information for 87 cities, including my hometown of Louisville, KY. The provided data includes buses, subways, streetcars and even the Uber private car service. Unfortunately, real-time GPS data is not available for all cities, so the functionality in your area may be limited.
However, even without real-time tracking, the Transit App can be very helpful with planning your trip, especially if a transfer is involved. As an example, let’s say I wanted to travel by bus to the University of Louisville campus from my home in the Louisville suburbs. I enter my current address and the destination address and let the Transit App calculate several trip options, including the alternative of using Uber.
I’m going to have to walk to the bus stop to catch the 15 Transit Authority of River City (TARC) bus and ride it downtown. Once there, I’ll transfer to the 18 bus and travel straight south to the U of L campus, arriving a little past noon. I’d better get moving or else I’ll have to use option two. By the way, when I used to use printed bus schedules to plan my TARC excursions, this route would not have been my choice. It’s very helpful to have all of the options calculated for you on the fly.
Are We There Yet?
The Transit App uses data provided by the service providers in each of the covered areas, which in my case is TARC. This means more coverage areas can be added to the app as other providers get on board. This inherent expandability gives the Transit App a distinct advantage over other area-specific Android apps available on Google Play.
That is not to say the Transit App is perfect. I would still like to have real-time information available for every area, but that is a limitation created by the service providers rather than the app itself. In addition, the interface for the Transit App could stand a few tweaks to help make it more user-friendly, but overall it works well and the button pushing is kept to a minimum.
The Transit App is the perfect example of a practical mobile application. Using your Android or Apple smartphone to calculate how you can use mass transit to get from point A to point B epitomizes how always being connected can make life easier to live. And, it was all my idea. You’re welcome.
Featured image credit: © SeanPavonePhoto / Dollar Photo Club
All screenshots: Mark Kaelin