Transit Surfer

This is part of our series documenting the Transit Tools offered by Portland Transport.

Transit Surfer™ is our cell phone web browser interface for accessing real time arrival information for TriMet and Streetcar routes (route and arrival data provided by permission of TriMet). It’s named ‘Surfer’ for those of us who ‘surf’ the transit system, making real time judgments about what route or vehicle will get us to our destination most quickly. As such it’s designed to put comparative information on the screen and let you quickly access related information.

For those of you who follow cell phone technology, this is technically an xHTML interface. It will also work on a desktop web browser. I’m afraid we do NOT have support for older phones that only implement the WAP interface. The good news is that new phones coming out generally support xHTML if they have a web browser.

You can find Transit Surfer at

There are three screens you will encounter when using Transit Surfer. The entry screen lets you either type in a route or stop id number, or select a route from a pulldown list:

The landing screen for Transit Surfer™

If you either type a route number or select a route from the pulldown, you’ll wind up on the stop selection screen, where there are two pulldowns, one for each direction, to select the stop.

The stop selection screen.

One you select a stop, either from the landing screen or from the stop selection screen, you’ll get the results page. Not only will the results show you all the lines arriving at your stop, it will also give you links to the nearest lines at other stops, so you can ‘surf’ to alternate choices.

Also note the forward and backward linked arrows next to each line. These links will take you to the screen for the next or previous stop on that line. One of my favorite ways to use Transit Surfer is to walk in the direction of travel until the bus or Streetcar catches up with me. By just clicking to the next stop each time I pass a bus stop, I can keep track and make sure the vehicle isn’t going to pass me between stops!

The results screen.

Like the Transit Board, Transit Surfer also supports the idea of ‘choice sets’, collections of multiple stops and routes (rather than just a single stop). Here’s a set that lets me see three different lines at three different stops that can get me home to NW Portland from central downtown Portland:

(I hang out at City Club a lot.)

Right now, we can set up ‘choice sets’ on request. In the future we hope to offer users an interface to build their own, so that ultimately you can have a menu of your ‘favorite transit places’ to steal a phrasing from Windows.

As always, let us know what you think.

Transit Surfer™ is a trademark of Portland Transport.

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