Translink Buzzer Blog

Yay: our trip planner gets some big improvements!

The old trip planner (pictured here) will be getting some major improvements!

The old trip planner (pictured here) will be getting some major improvements!

Note: I’m still on holiday, returning Monday Jan 4!

If all is going according to plan, you should keep an eye out for some great improvements to our transit trip planner today (or shortly thereafter!)

Here’s the list of improvements I’ve been told about:

  • The big one: there is now a widget which searches for addresses as you type them into the from/to fields, so you can select your match right away. It also recognizes common contractions such as E or Hwy, etc. This functionality also carries over to Next Bus and Schedule lookup.
  • Early in your trip plan, you can now select some trip options, such as minimize walking or no Skytrain or others.
  • We’ve added an Olympic Preferred Route option for planning trips.
  • For the first time, we will have a mobile Trip Planner that can be used by web enabled cell-phones!
  • Alerts and information we know about your planned trip will be shown right in your results, so you can get up-to-the-minute information about what might affect your travel plans.
  • The schedule lookup has been revamped so that it all fits on one page and is easily printable.

I’m still away, but feel free to explore and discuss – I’ll get answers for you once I’m back!


21 Comments

  • By Wayne, December 23, 2009 @ 10:50 am

    Any improvements will be welcome. I’ve had considerable frustration trying to get the location just right so Trip Planner would recognize it.

  • By mark, December 23, 2009 @ 11:33 am

    Finally. Compared to Google Maps or other online mapping systems, the tripplanner had a very difficult time recognizing very common addresses. Too bad it only took 5 years or so to fix it! Gotta love our civil servants…

  • By Stefan, December 23, 2009 @ 12:10 pm

    If it works as advertised, I’d like to find out where the address-matching widget comes from. Is it third-party or an in-house TransLink innovation?

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, December 23, 2009 @ 1:13 pm

    Thanks, Translink. The alerts and information will be very useful. The lookup sounds like a great idea.

  • By Sally, December 23, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

    Yeah! The other way was so frustrating as you had to figure out the exact wording for the stops & locations.

  • By ;-), December 23, 2009 @ 6:58 pm

    OK…. what’s the URL for the “mobile transit planner”? I’m drooling here….

  • By Andrew S, December 23, 2009 @ 11:29 pm

    I hope the Trip Planner, in the near future, will show more than just six search results because in my opinion, it should show every single REASONABLE way to get to my destination. For example, when I use the trip planner, it would never show an option that includes the Canada Line even though it may be much quicker than transferring to another bus. Therefore, I think a map with a drag-able route (sort of like a regular Google road map) would be the most useful gadget!

  • By Dennis, December 24, 2009 @ 4:49 pm

    What is an “Olympic Preferred Route”?

  • By Jackdaniels, December 25, 2009 @ 4:17 pm

    Hey Jhenifer is there a specific person I can talk to/persuade about translink improvements? and email or Contact number would be great. I remember when translink send me those survays but they havn’t sen me anymore.

  • By Sara, December 25, 2009 @ 6:52 pm

    It would be great, and I reckon fairly easy to implement, to give users an option to choose the time and date formats for this tool. As a newcomer from the UK, I am a lot more used to the 24-hour clock for timetables, as well as the standard DD/MM/YYYY date format. Thanks for your kind consideration!

  • By Improvement? Yeah, nice try., December 26, 2009 @ 11:00 pm

    Quote:

    By Sally, December 23, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

    Yeah! The other way was so frustrating as you had to figure out the exact wording for the stops & locations.

    - – - – - – - – -

    Actually, I’m experiencing the exact opposite. Whereas I could freely use street names from an intersection in any order, it now must be done only in one specific sequence.

    As just one example, “Cambie @ King Edward” gets changed to “CAMBIE COMMUNITY CENTRE, CAMBIE RD, RICHMOND” by the new widget; you have to now enter it as “King Edward @ Cambie”.

    I love it when companies and organizations try to tell us something that has changed is “improved” when it’s actually a step backwards. Not. It seems to be occuring a lot lately.

  • By Improvement? Part Two, December 27, 2009 @ 1:15 am

    Ok, so the above example can be rectified by using “Cambie @ W King Edward” but who ever refers to it as “West King Edward” or “East King Edward”?

    Another gripe with the “new improved” planner: the starting and ending points no longer stay in the form’s text boxes when you browse backwards from the search results. So, if you want to adjust the time or a location, you have to enter everything from scratch. Huge PITA, especially with the new “intelligent” location popups throwing out all sorts of non-helpful streets and landmarks.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, January 4, 2010 @ 12:05 pm

    Jackdaniels: There’s always our online customer feedback form, or give our Customer Relations dept a call at 604-953-3040.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, January 5, 2010 @ 2:46 pm

    Everyone: I have sent your questions/comments along to our web team and have some answers!

    Why did it take so long for these improvements to happen?

    As TransLink uses a third party trip planner application, we are subject to their timelines, not ours.

    If it works as advertised, I’d like to find out where the address-matching widget comes from. Is it third-party or an in-house TransLink innovation?

    It’s third-party based upon our requirements.

    What’s the URL for the mobile trip planner?

    tripplanning.translink.ca, same as for a desktop. It recognizes if you are using a portable device and serves you up that version. We will take a look at using the m. URL in the future for this tool if users feel it is useful.

    Will the trip planner show more than 6 search results in the future?

    Not likely. We recently increased the choices from 3 but every choice we show takes longer to calculate so it is a balance of speed vs. # of options.

    What’s an Olympic Preferred Route?

    The recommended route to attend Olympic Events.

    Another gripe with the “new improved” planner: the starting and ending points no longer stay in the form’s text boxes when you browse backwards from the search results. So, if you want to adjust the time or a location, you have to enter everything from scratch. Huge PITA, especially with the new “intelligent” location popups throwing out all sorts of non-helpful streets and landmarks.

    We are aware of some shortcomings of the new system. It is our hope that issues such as this can be addressed in the future.

  • By ;-), January 5, 2010 @ 11:27 pm

    To clarify does tripplanning[dot]translink[dot]ca site recognize mobile apps now? Or later in the future?

    Ran a few quickie tests on my Blackberry
    -Blackberry browser with java disabled, get error “Named template ‘PDALocationLookup” does not exist in stylesheet
    -Blackberry browser with Java Enabled makes no difference, same error message as above.
    -Bolt works (1.62 just got released), but is painfully slow. The text box popups don’t work, but then again I wonder if that’s what is slowing it down
    -Opera Mini seems to work, but like Bolt is slow compared to the desktop.

  • By ;-), January 6, 2010 @ 7:14 am

    I hope you keep the “m.” site. It’s my favourite site to access Translink schedules because of speed. Likely because it’s Java free. I also like it because I can bookmark my favourite bus stops and can pull in information in less than 5 seconds. Much better than SMS.

    Only complaints
    -bus stop changes can take weeks or months to update…. recent stop changes at Brighouse hasn’t been updated. That is stop 61334 is still not updated and shows no service for the 401. http://m.translink.ca/stop/61334/
    -like the SMS version, I would like the data to also be presented “ungrouped” where it shows the next buses to approach a stop without being grouped by different routes
    -doesn’t seem to get service interruptions as quickly website version
    -would love to see this with real-time schedules

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, January 6, 2010 @ 11:08 am

    Thanks — I’ll pass your note along to our web team. I believe it does recognize mobile apps though. I tried it out on Blackberry browser and a mobile version of the trip planner came up. I only got the regular trip planner through Opera though.

  • By KC, January 10, 2010 @ 3:55 pm

    I think the suggestion widget is great; however, it doesn’t store your old data (like the cross streets by my house that are almost always my starting point) in the form anymore.

    Also, as someone above mentioned, the form automatically *assumes* something different. I type in Broadway and Cambie, and it gives me the Canada Line stop.

    Another thing I noticed this afternoon was that if my search start was the Broadway/CityHall station, going to Silvercity in Richmond, it made me take TWO buses after the skytrain. But if I entered Broadway & Spruce as the start point, it would only give me a single bus after the skytrain.

    Soooo, I don’t think the program behind the site works very well to give the most efficient trips.

    Good luck to that development team though. At least there is the *spirit* of improvement over there, rather than stagnation. They should take a look at HopStop for New York City. That site is awesome for trip planning.

  • By ;-), January 10, 2010 @ 5:29 pm

    For those that haven’t heard CES just showcased a new $149 wrist device called inPulse that would allow you to receive transit alerts as well as other incoming SMS, emails, and phone calls from your phone.

    With our new electronic driving legislation, I wonder if this would be a way around getting a ticket since they aren’t ticketing people yet for checking their watches.

    Sorry iPhone users, this is for Blackberries only.

  • By ;-), January 10, 2010 @ 5:29 pm

    Here’s the website…. http://www.getinpulse.com/

Other Links to this Post

  1. Twitter Trackbacks for The Buzzer blog » Yay: our trip planner gets some big improvements! [translink.ca] on Topsy.com — December 23, 2009 @ 9:03 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Please read our Participation Guidelines before you comment.