One of the biggest barriers to transit ridership is the accessibility and legibility of pertinent information. The team behind WhichBus, winner of the Second Best app and Best Multijurisdtictional app, has built a tool with that in mind. Unlike taking the car (origin: wherever I am, departure: now, destination: wherever I want) a trip by bus involves a three part question: “Where do I catch the bus, which bus should I catch, and when does it leave?” Without adequate answers to all three parts, a would-be transit rider, even a motivated one, can have a confusing, lengthy and unpleasant experience.
Answering a question like “How do I get there by bus” involves the data for hundreds of bus routes and realtime schedule information for each of the buses running on all of those routes. This app is exciting because its users–the transit riders of metropolitan Puget Sound–now have a beautiful interface to all of that data, packaged in the most efficient way: a choice between several customized trips, with accompanying maps and schedules.
There have been a few apps that offer realtime information–most notably the Seattle classic OneBusAway, whose developer Brian Ferris now works for Google Transit in Switzerland. King County Metro offers a useful TripPlanner web application, but until now, none of the resources those apps rely have been made so easily accesible.
WhichBus sports an efficient layout and pleasant application of color and type. The focus on design makes the entire process of planning a trip easy, orderly and comprehensible. That focus extends beyond just the app’s interface, though. One of the most useful features the WhichBus team built into the app is the ability to search for several kinds of terms: the name of a neighborhood or a landmark, or an address or cross street. This is extremely helpful when attempting a trip that involves unfamiliar routes, or a destination you haven’t visited by bus before.
For many transit riders across the world, smartphones have become an integral part of the networks of buses and trains they rely on every day, because they have the capability to provide the full range of information that’s needed to plan a trip by bus. The WhichBus team has built a tool that goes a long way towards bringing that to riders in the Seattle area. Next up is a public beta. Dave Rigotti from WhichBus reports that more than 1,000 people have signed up to be included in the next release, which follows an extended period of development that began at StartupWeekendGov [LINK] at Seattle City Hall in May.