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Translink Buzzer Blog

The new Next Bus is now officially launched!

I’ve been bloggging about it for since May last year, and now the new Next Bus real-time service is officially out of beta! As part of m.translink.ca, not only can Next Bus show where buses are in real time on a map, it can provide predictive departure times! If you’re a regular Buzzer blog reader, you’ll already be familiar with the new Next Bus. If not, there’s plenty of info on the new mobile website on this blog. a couple of new updates have been incorporated to the last beta release of Next Bus and the mobile site in general.

What’s new for Next Bus

Text view now shows the destination of the bus you want to catch instead of the geographic direction.

The mobile team has made an important update to help you chose the correct direction of the bus you want to know more information about. Previously, when you searched by bus route number (as opposed to bus stop #) in text view, you were were asked to pick the direction of the route you wished to catch. The direction of the route proved to be not so obvious for routes like the #22, which runs multiple directions. Now, instead of asking you for geographic direction of the route, Next Bus indicates the destination of each bus (see screen shot of the #22 route in text view).

Social media icons added to m.translink.ca home page

New additions to the m.translink.ca home screen

Besides the link to the Buzzer blog on the home page, links to TransLink’s other online accounts like YouTube, Facebook and Foursquare have been added.

Another great addition is a”Help” link located at the bottom left of the home screen. Here, you’ll find answers to questions about Next Bus, Trip Planner, Favourites and an “About” section.

What now?

The mobile team has received a lot of feedback on the site while it was in beta (much of that feedback coming from Buzzer blog readers). That feedback has helped contribute to this official launch. Now that Next Bus and the mobile website are officially out of beta, that doesn’t mean the development of the website is over. While there won’t be any major new developments with the website in the near future, we’ll be continuing to tweak the service and fix any problems users may see with it.

The mobile team still plans to release the mobile site’s API for developers to use this year. The mobile site was designed to help users access and get more out of the services TransLink provides. The hope is that developers can use what has been built to continue to provide information that can help more people use transit in a productive way.


13 Comments

  • By slantendicular, April 20, 2012 @ 10:31 am

    It’s a great service. It has gotten me to switch from Google Maps to your service, which has the added bonus of being more reliable than Google Maps (in terms of downtime). Great work.

  • By Benjamin, April 21, 2012 @ 10:35 am

    It’s a great site, but I do wish for a mobile app as well. Nothing beats the responsiveness of a native app!

  • By Paul C, April 21, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

    Maybe it is just something I’ve notice. But the predictive bus schedule seems to mess up at times.

    An example would the following. Last Thursday evening around 7pm. I’m heading home from Metrotown and checking when the next #41 will leave Joyce Station. That is when it tells me the next bus leaves in 20 minutes. Which I know is completely false for that route at that time of day. So I keep track of it and it counts down to about 10-12 minutes. Then seems to reset it self back to 20 minutes. It never actually gets down to the 3 minutes or less.

    This first glitch might be due to the drivers parking the bus and shutting them and not updating the sign for the new route. So the system as no way of knowing there is a bus there and thinks the next bus is still coming along.

    Another glitch I’ve seen is waiting for the #41 at Cambie to go Eastbound. It says the bus is due to arrive Now. But when I check the map the bus is way back around Arbutus. Unless that bus is going to hit some kind of turbo boost I don’t see how it can make it to Cambie within 3 minutes. :)

  • By ;-), April 23, 2012 @ 6:23 pm

    Perhaps the funniest thing is how it still says “Beta” on the page title.
    http://nb.translink.ca/Map/Stop/60980

  • By Ian, April 24, 2012 @ 8:07 am

    I reply to Paul C’s observation about the first bus waiting to depart a terminus not showing up: I observed this as well, and noted that the “missing” buses did show up with reasonable predicted times at the first stop after the terminus. I dropped a note to the project manager and he noted that this is a known problem and that it should be fixed in the next week or two. Also to be fixed then are instances where a bus time is shown as scheduled (*) when real-time data is available for that bus. So the team is sorting those out.
    Ian. (TransLink planner)

  • By some programmer, April 24, 2012 @ 8:47 am

    Are you going to depreciate the API in a consitent way and warn your users, or are you going to just cut off access again like you did with your unofficial api? (http://www.mweisman.com/transit.html) Even though it was unofficial, it seems like a stupid decision to cut off your only REST api before having a replacement ready.

  • By Loyal User, April 25, 2012 @ 6:21 am

    The real time bus on map is really cool, but I wish it could show more than 1 bus route at a time, as I have 2 bus routes I can take at my stop. So, show all bus routes’ locations related to my stop on the map would be nice.

  • By Loyal User, April 25, 2012 @ 6:36 am

    1) Actually, I meant to say a link to go BACK showing multiple bus routes, once a bus route is selected. Currently, if I click on 1 bus number, it shows the track for that bus number, but I can’t go back to the original load page showing all bus routes related to that stop, even with refresh.

    2)The default zoom level should be further out, as it is currently showing buses that are 2 minutes away in map radius, which is too close, and I always zoom out after initial load.

    3) For map view, I prefer it loading without the text bubble, as it is huge and blocks out nearby buses.

  • By Paul C, April 26, 2012 @ 7:44 pm

    @Ian

    Thanks for the update about the fault at the beginning of the route.

    @Loyal User.

    If you do a search for a bus stop. It should show all the routes that will use that bus stop and the location of all the buses on those routes on the map.

    One feature I’d love to see, although not sure if it is even possible. The ability to make a virtual bus stop.

    I’ll give an example of where it would be nice. 41st and Cambie. Now during peak hours if I’m in that location and going home. I can either take the 41 or 43. The problem is both routes stop at different stops. So its difficult trying to keep track of which bus is coming next. Sometimes even though the 41 came first the 43 might be 2 minutes behind so I would wait for it. What would be nice is if we could merge the two stop together in a search to make a virtual stop. Then it would show both routes and when the next bus is coming for both routes at the same time.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, May 1, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

    some programmer: We received a similar question through customer service. I’ll post that response once they send it my way.

    Loyal User: I forwarded your questions to the mobile team. Here’s what I got back:

    1. This has been passed on to our developers.

    2. The default zoom level was chosen so that you could see bus stops to enable a user to see and/or select nearby stops.

    3. Noted. We have received feedback on both sides of this and continue to track it to see if a change is wanted by our customers on the whole.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, May 2, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

    Hi some programmer: So, I have an answer for you about releasing our API:

    The old ‘API’ was an exploit of a mobile site we had developed for us. It was never official or supported. When we parted ways with the company that had developed it for us, it went away along with the old mobile site. The upcoming API will be both official and supported by TransLink as part of our commitment to providing quality data to developers. In the meantime, scheduled data continues to be available through GTFS files here: http://www.translink.ca/en/Schedules-and-Maps/Developer-Resources/GTFS-Data.aspx These files are updated twice weekly.

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » The May 2012 Buzzer and Ed Appleby: Buzzer illustrator interview — May 4, 2012 @ 3:20 pm

  2. The Buzzer blog » Next Bus SMS goes real-time — June 21, 2012 @ 11:48 am

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