Friday, December 19, 2008

Snowpocalypse Update

So maybe you noticed it snowed today...

As mentioned on the OneBusAway arrival pages, real-time arrival predictions aren't accurate for buses on adverse weather reroute. Today that was pretty much every bus.

Yet despite the sketchiness of arrival data, today was OneBusAway's busiest by far. We almost broke the 2k visitor count. I can only imagine what kind of traffic the transit agencies were seeing.

In order to make OneBusAway a little bit more useful in spite of all the re-routes and cancelations, I'm trying to quickly add a few features. Most visible is notification of when a route has been officially suspended by Metro. Here is an example:

Example Suspended Route

You can also now click on the bus destination to bring up a specific page for that bus route that contains some extra diagnostic info that might help you decide if you really want to wait in the snow for that particular bus.

Of course, the biggest problem is the re-routes themselves. As far as I can tell, re-routes are managed on the fly, which means that re-routes do not even match the suggested route listed for some routes online (see this example for Route 30).

About the only solution I can imagine is some sort of collaboratively edited map where riders (and maybe even transit operators) can updates routes to the best of their knowledge. Even better if that info can be fed automatically back into OneBusAway so it can let you know that a bus is never coming to your stop. Sounds tricky to implement... maybe tomorrow.

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