March 2, 2015

“Ain’t TransLink terrible?”

From Michael Alexander:

an item (in the New York Times) for the people who think TransLink sucks compared to transit service in other North American cities.

 MTATic Toc Transit, introduced in August, fulfills one very simple purpose: It tells you when your subway train is coming. …

The app was born of transit experience: Miles Fitzgerald, one of its creators, moved to New York from France about five years ago and became a regular rider of the F train. Mr. Fitzgerald was tormented by his wait on the platform every morning.

“The F train, I call it like an old horse,” he said. “It always works, but it’s just slow.” …

Then there is the obvious catch of using a schedule: The app is not updated with live information, so it’s accurate only when the trains are running on time. …. Tic Toc Transit can provide a soothing illusion of order. But the app that can hasten the arrival of a late train has yet to be invented.

Of course, nobody in Metro Vancouver would even consider creating such an app, because Skytrain service is so frequent that nobody bothers with a schedule. Every user knows that an Expo train will arrive in one to three minutes, and there’s a real-time sign in every station that tells you the frequency during late-night hours.

Ain’t TransLink terrible?

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    1. More often than not the time given by TransLink’s app is incorrect in my experience, so it’s fairly useless. How convenient is this: wait for a bus that may come in a minute, in 15 min, has already left or never comes.

      1. I read somewhere that the locations are based on GPS data on the buses but they can only send the date once every two minutes. I hear they’re working on improving that system though.
        What I really like are those electronic bus signs where the coming buses are displayed. That means anyone can use them whether they have a smart phone and data plan or not.
        It allows you to make the decision whether you’re going to wait for a bus or walk five blocks to a Skytrain station or other route.

      2. Agreed. They’re waaaaaaaaaay out of whack to be considered ‘real time’. No doubt they are based on some sort of real time-like system, because they don’t seem to follow schedules, but they’re not right either.

  1. I never had this experience with the F train in NY. Not as frequent as skytrain, but almost always within 5-8 minutes on weekdays. I suspect Mr. Fitzgerald is just a little too precious.

  2. Maybe it’s because I travel in the city core most of the time but I’ve always found both Next Bus and Trip Planner to be accurate and useful. Using Trip Planner, I can figure out what time to leave the house and the bus is almost always there within a couple of minutes. It’s also very helpful (along with Google) for planning walking distances. BTW, Next Bus on messaging (when you punch in your stop nbr.) makes it absolutely clear that it’s not real time, and gives you a link for that. I’m also a frequent driver in town. But I find transit way more productive time wise and less stressful.

  3. So how does TransLink provide real time info for their buses? Half of the time buses are stuck in traffic in the afternoon on the North Shore, and bus schedules are meaningless.

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