Actual Tech in the District – NextBus

22 July 2009

Want to post an update here to my last blog. Thanks to a few posts from the crowd, I’ve provided the missing info below to both available apps as well as a vehicle locator for the bus. Apologize if anyone was sweltering away without these. One should always assume there’s an app for everything even if you can’t find it right away. Patience is just one stop away I suppose.  

NextBus apps: www.nextbus.com/mini.html; http://www.apptism.com/apps/nextbus-dc

Vehicle locator maps: http://www.nextbus.com/googleMap/googleMap.jsp?a=wmata&r=A2&d=A2_A2_1&s=2010

Earlier this month, DC Transit re-launched their new NextBus service, a new high-tech system Metro initiated two years ago to offer riders real-time schedule information and arrival times. The system, which uses global positioning software and computer modeling to track buses on their routes every two minutes and can be accessed through the Web or a cellphone, has been met with both praise as well as a strong dose of criticism.

For the most part, the system seems to be working. After nearly two years of upgrades to computer hardware and software, and bus route and stop information, the system has reduced many of the information hurdles to riding the bus. The system is far from perfect as you can imagine – this morning it said seven minutes till next bus and one arrived within two minutes time – and predicting DC traffic patterns, the weather, etc make it increasingly difficult for any system to accurately predict arrival times. Rather than giving riders a prediction of when the bus might arrive, I wonder why not just let them track the bus on Google maps for example in real-time and actually know where the bus is at all times?

Biggest downsides include the lack of a mobile application for the Blackberry or iPhone that saves riders from having to navigate the metro website for their information. One would think this would be a given in today’s world, but perhaps the Metro authority didn’t want to discourage private developers from competing in the next Apps for Democracy contest.

The other issue is that unfortunately, this system does not make it any easier for you to complain about the service….

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2 Responses to “Actual Tech in the District – NextBus”

  1. skibu

    You just need to look around a bit more to get the information you want. There actually is a link on the http://www.wmata.com/rider_tools/nextbus/arrivals.cfm web page to a map showing the latest locations of the vehicles. And I highly recommend you check out nextbus.com or wmata.nextbus.com on your Blackberry or iPhone. Works really well. Plus you can call the phone number on the signs at the bus stops in order to get the arrival info. Plus there are apps for the iPhone. Just search for “NextBus” in the Apple app store.

  2. Joe In The Know

    Please do some research before posting things. Blackberry/iPhone access is available through several apps:

    NextBus DC: http://www.apptism.com/apps/nextbus-dc
    NextBus: http://www.nextbus.com/mini.html

    Google maps vehicle locations: http://www.nextbus.com/googleMap/googleMap.jsp?a=wmata&r=A2&d=A2_A2_1&s=2010

    Took me about 5 minutes to find this stuff…

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