Hurrah – at long last, you can now get customized transit alerts through text-message or e-mail!
We’ve just launched the service, and you can sign up to get your updates through the TransLink homepage (or click here).
You’ll only get alerts about transit services that you’re interested in. When you sign up, you’re asked to register your regular transit trips, which tells the service what specific routes or services you want alerts about. (You can sign up for system-wide alerts too.)
And nicely enough, you can also select which days you want to receive alerts, so you won’t be bothered on the weekend about changes that only matter for you during weekdays.
Quirks and quarks
This is all new to us, so here’s a list of a few quirks we’re currently seeing, plus a few tips based on what’s happening behind the scenes. (And feel free to share any more you discover too!)
- You have to pick at least one stop for any bus route you select.
- You can pick multiple bus stops for any bus route you select. (Handy for those who want to know about only accessible bus stops, or whatever other reasons.)
- The bus stops are sometimes in a weird order for each route, and apparently this is due to the changed routes for the Olympic period. The alerts team is working on this! (The optimal solution of course is to have the stops listed end to end in order.)
- Does your transit journey involve taking either the Expo or Millennium Line along the shared Expo Line route? If so, you’ll notice that you can only select either the Expo or Millennium Line when you’re registering your journey, even though you are able to take either line. Don’t worry, just pick either one. All Expo and Millennium Line alerts will be sent to subscribers on both lists.
- If you subscribe via text, and your cell phone service is provided by Fido or Rogers, the alerts come in a bit funny. Instead of getting the alert directly, you get a text saying that you have an e-mail message waiting, and then you have to text back “Read” to get the actual alert texted to you. (Telus and Bell customers will just get the alert directly.)
- Peter’s comments below suggest a caution is in order: depending on your cell phone plan, you may be charged by your provider for incoming texts to your phone. Be sure you know whether e-mail-to-text messages are covered by your plan!
Here’s the explanation: TransLink is sending out the alerts through the e-mail-to-text service provided by all cell phone companies. (This way we don’t pay to send text messages.) And this is just how Rogers and Fido have chosen to set up their e-mail-to-text service – you get a notification that there’s an alert, and then you have to reply to get it. We can’t actually do anything about this—Rogers and Fido customers, you’ll have to talk to your service provider and ask them to adjust their setup if it bothers you!
Again, we’d love to hear from you! Feel free to let us know if you have more feedback or questions, and I’ll get you the answers as soon as possible.