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Benzo

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Dec 12 2012 at 5:02pm #

Yeah, iphone users don’t have transit directions built in to the maps app in iOS5. There are third party apps, but I’m not sure how universally useful they are. Hopefully they add that back to the maps app soon, or get the google maps app approved. The maps app was my lifeline when I was a regular bus user.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/19/ios-6-maps-no-transit-directions-apple_n_1896684.html

UPDATE: However, you can at least access google maps and their transit directions (and bike directions) via the web browser on the iphone. It’s not as nice as an integrated app, but it will get the job done in a pinch.


jonawebb

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Dec 12 2012 at 5:03pm #

Does RouteShout work on the iPhone? It’s a web interface, I’m thinking maybe it does.


Benzo

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Dec 13 2012 at 1:56pm #

Routeshout has an iphone, android app, and a decent mobile web app. This is pretty nice, I’ve been looking for something like this that could show me the whole route overlayed on a google map.

In other news, the google maps app just came to the iphone today (after I just complained about no transit directions on the iphone). It does do transit directions, but I’m not sure about bike directions yet.


ieverhart

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Dec 13 2012 at 4:08pm #

At one of the Port Authority system realignment (or maybe it was bus rapid transit) meetings, I asked their staff/consultants about getting route/schedule information on poles. They said it was impractical because the schedules are updated quarterly, and they can’t go around doing updates on every single transit stop every time that happens.

I believe this was the honest answer, but perhaps it could be tried at least on a subset of the routes–the most popular ones, perhaps, or the ones with greatest potential, or the ones with the least prospect for needing massive changes.


Pseudacris

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Dec 13 2012 at 5:23pm #

^ or, any stop/intersection that serves more than one route (i.e. the transfer points)


Steven

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Dec 13 2012 at 5:41pm #

There’s no need to put a full schedule on the poles. Include a map, approximate frequency info, and when service starts/stops. That all changes so infrequently that you’d probably average no more than a few hundred pole updates per year. (For instance, the last quarterly update in November wouldn’t really have required any pole updates, as it didn’t change service spans and only trivially updated the frequency on two routes.)


reddan

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Dec 13 2012 at 5:48pm #

Or, ensure that there’s a nice clean Web interface to generate a schedule by plugging in an intersection, and let people print out the PDFs and tape them to poles/shelters themselves.

Uses existing data, requires merely some light Webslinging on PAT’s part, and crowdsources the responsibility for posting such things at the stops.

Then, you need only a (relatively) few civic-minded people in each neighborhood to try to keep the posted schedules current.


Pseudacris

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Dec 13 2012 at 5:58pm #

^shoot, we could start doing that *now* with the paper schedules!


edmonds59

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Dec 13 2012 at 6:35pm #

This may have been mentioned somewhere before, if so, apologies.

But at my main stop, at Gateway Center, you can text in the message “HILTON” to a certain number (talk about things that aren’t there any more as references) and within seconds it sends back all the buses with the scheduled times for the next hour or so, in chronological order. That is incredibly helpful. In the afternoon I have no use knowing what buses will be coming for the entire rest of the day. I have not seen this function at any other stops. Why has that system not been established nearly everywhere?? It seems like PAT gets scattered good ideas that just fizzle and dry up.


Benzo

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Dec 13 2012 at 8:33pm #

Wow, If most stops had a map that showed all the lines that came off of that stop, their names, and relative frequency, that would be really cool, even without a full schedule. Maybe even one of those QR codes ( or routeshout id number) to scan for connection to a mobile website or app with the details for the routes.


jonawebb

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Dec 13 2012 at 9:16pm #

edmonds59’s cellphone trick is a simple, low-cost way to achieve the goal. Everybody has cellphones now. Let’s take advantage of them. All you need to do is to set up a responding service that texts the upcoming times (you can even have it updated with delays), and have a way to identify the bus stop by id. Then you put a map on the bus stop pole and you’re done, no need to update things all the time.


helen s

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Dec 13 2012 at 11:25pm #

Jon- I do not have a cell phone. But I can see they do sometimes come in handy.


Steven

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Dec 13 2012 at 11:27pm #

A few bus stop signs have that ID code for getting schedule info by text message, but not many. I think it was billed as an experiment when they did it a few years ago.

CMU built a pretty decent voice response system some years ago that provides similar info. If you call PAT after-hours and select the option for schedule info, it’ll connect you up (or call 412-268-3526 at any time).

You speak the name of your intersection, and where you want to go, and it tells you the next few buses that go there. I had some difficulty getting it to understand me, but after a few tries it worked fine, and listed the next few buses. This page has more about it.


J Z

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Dec 14 2012 at 12:25am #

+1 for the CMU voice system, worked when for me when I used it.


rice rocket

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Dec 14 2012 at 1:25am #

Google Now tells you when the next bus is coming when you’re near a bus stop.


Mick

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Dec 14 2012 at 5:09am #

@rice rocket Google Now tells you when the next bus is coming

Does it tell you the when the next bus is coming? Or just when it’s scheduled? (Alas! not the same thing.)


salty

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Dec 14 2012 at 5:21am #

If PAT would tell Google when the next bus was coming, Google would tell you.

https://developers.google.com/transit/google-transit#LiveTransitUpdates

There’s an application developed at CMU that’s trying to crowdsource the data, but the few times I’ve tried it I haven’t had much luck. The userbase probably needs to get bigger: http://www.tiramisutransit.com/


StuInMcCandless

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Dec 14 2012 at 10:29am #

PAT cannot tell itself when the next bus is coming. It does not have the technology to actually track buses’ movements. A money thing, again.


jonawebb

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Dec 14 2012 at 1:32pm #

My son was telling me that there already is a text service where you text the intersection and it tells you when the next buses arrive. But the real point is, these services should be more available. It wouldn’t cost PAT much money to put an id and phone number on the bus signs. And if they were to do that it would make the bus system easier to use.


edmonds59

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Dec 14 2012 at 1:50pm #

Hmm, yes, in the existing system I mentioned before, right on the PAT panel on the pole, below the route list, there is an additional small panel that says “Text HILTON to 252-52 for schedule information”. That service may very well be available for other stops, but you need to know the number and the title of the stop for the other stops to access the information. It is that little additional panel I have not seen at other stops. Failure in the system.

I am happy enough to be able to get the scheduled time, as opposed to the real time arrival. It’s a step in the right direction.


pinky

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Dec 14 2012 at 4:17pm #

Edmonds, that’s also available at the Crafton Ingram stop by Giant Eagle.

I haven’t ridden the bus from Gateway in 6 months, but when I used to, there was a period for like 8 months when texting HILTON only returned “No information is available.”

Did they get it up and running again, or is it still down?


edmonds59

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Dec 14 2012 at 6:15pm #

Is working recently.


Steven

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Dec 14 2012 at 7:40pm #

PAT has a page listing apps that supply transit info.

RouteShout runs that 25252 text message service. It looks like transit agencies have to pay for it based on usage. Maybe PAT only has a few stops signed for money reasons.


StuInMcCandless

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Dec 15 2012 at 9:21am #

Back to money again.

Just for comparison’s sake, let’s look at the US19 corridor north of town. The McKnight Rd corridor got a remake in the past couple of years to the tune of about $10M. The Wexford Flats job came in at $18.1M. The rebuild just north of that, by Northway Church, was also in the $16M range. A rebuild of the McKnight-Perry-Pine Creek interchange is scheduled soon, also in the $7-10M range.

Look at those numbers. Eight miles of just one road gets $50M in make-overs in four years’ time. This is on top of $7M to re-time McKnight’s traffic lights a couple years ago. I only know those numbers because I live next to it and pay attention. This is not counting all the little bridge and culvert replacements and upgrades that need to be done.

There’s money out there. We just need to make our voices heard, be it for ped, bike, or transit.

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