Every few weeks or so, the mobile team rolls out refinements to the Next Bus service found within our mobile site, m.translink.ca. This month, I’m very excited to see three new additions that I think will greatly improve helping customers find the right bus for their needs. First up: favourites are now live!
Favorites added to Next Bus
Trip Planner has it, and there was the ability to bookmark favourite routes on the old mobile site. Now Next Bus has favourites built into it! Besides having GPS on the buses and seeing them on the map, for me, being able to save your favourite bus route or stop using Next Bus is one of the most useful aspects of the new mobile site.
Once you search a route or bus stop, simply click the “FAVS” button, and you’ll have them saved for whenever you need them again! I’m told you can keep up to 100 favourites stored (if you save over that number the your 101 favourite will replace your first etc.). I haven’t saved that many yet, nor do I think I ever will.
Within the favourites pages, you’ll also see “Search History”. The “Search History” will keep your route searches regardless of if you save them or not. This way, if you forget to save a search for a route or stop or decide you would have liked to save it, it’s already there.
You can also edit what you name favourite routes and stops. For example, if you look up #9 going a particular direction, favourites will automatically name that route “Route 009 – WB1A Map View.” If this is your route to school, you can rename the route “School” or anything you want (within 256 characters). This also works for text view.
Also new is a “Favs” button alongside a “Home”, “Search”, “Refresh” and “Text View” button at the top of the map for quicker and better usability. Previously, you had to go back to the Home page of Next Bus to search.
Now when you go to m.translink.ca and click on “Favourites” you’ll see all your Next Bus and Trip Planner trips, bus routes, bus stops and search history in one spot!
Search the specific path your bus takes
Now this is really cool. Before today, if you searched for a particular bus route (by entering the route #22, finding it via a bus stop ID# or simply clicking on it on the Next Bus map) like the #22, the map would show where all the #22 buses were currently and the “usual” path they take. Now, if you click on a particular bus you’d like to catch, that bus’ specific path, along with all the other buses on that same path, will be highlighted in orange. The path that each bus takes within a route are the exact streets, avenues, roads and highways buses take to get from a to b. This is important because previously only one “usual” path was shown on the map. That meant that sometimes a bus would take a different path than was shown on the map. For example, the #22 has numerous paths and even different destinations. Now, once you click on the bus you’re interested in, it shows the exact path it takes! Notice in the screen shot that the #22 chosen goes along Prior Street, not Terminal Avenue, on it’s path to downtown Vancouver.
This new path functionality will help all of us better plan our trips – just last week one of my colleagues got on a 130 that short-turned at Hastings. She won’t do that again after today! Or at least I hope she won’t.
If you zoom into your map, you’ll notice that each bus stop that your bus stops at is also coloured orange instead of blue like other stops on the bus route.
Working out bugs and looking to Android next!
Now that paths are live, the team will be monitoring users comments about it. The mobile site is still in beta, so this is the time to let us know if you find any bugs or have any comments about this new and existing mobile functionality.
Moving forward, the mobile team will be working on making the mobile site function better for people using smart phones powered by Android. The mobile site is officially supported by iOS and iPhones 3G, 3GS, 4 and 4S. Android users are one of our fastest growing group of users when it comes to utilizing this mobile site, so it’s important the site works well on these phones. After updates for Android users are completed, the mobile team will focus on other operating systems.