Introducing Transit Board

We’re rolling out a new transit tool today, called Transit Board.

Contrasted with Transit Surfer, which is designed to be used on portable devices by people on the move, Transit Board is designed to serve fixed locations. It provides arrival times for buses and trains on a selected set of lines at a selected set of stops. The first instance we have deployed is for the Swan Island TMA. The Swan Island example is shown below.

We’re looking to deploy this where ever it can be useful. Our initial outreach efforts are focused on Transportation Management Associations, but we’re open to other locations. Want one on your corporate intranet? Or your coffee shop home page? Just let us know, we can tailor one for you. Right now we need to do the setup, but down the road we may offer the ability for users to define their own personal (or company) Transit Board.

Please share your ideas for where Transit Board can be useful!

16 responses to “Introducing Transit Board”

  1. This is a very cool tool Chris. Maybe it’d make sense to get with Personal Telco and get the Transit Board to display on their wi-fi connection start-up page. Because I won’t necessarily know the URL of the coffee shop I’m sitting in, but it’s guaranteed that I’ll have to pull up that start-up page.

  2. We need to replace those idiotic CRT displays on the Transit Mall with nice, sleek, LCD panels displaying real-time updated travel times on 6-inch tall letters! Behind plate glass, of course.

    We need to get some portland designers on this pronto. Oh wait, I’m one. =P

    All we need is an older off the shelf computer, a custom program (already done, it seems!), run it on a stripped-down version of linux, wireless network (wireless NIC’s for computers run about $15), and a huge LCD display (or equivalent… could be an array of LEDs too).

    We could get a little company to practically roll ’em off an assembly line…

    C’mon Portland! This kind of stuff is easy to do! We are one of the highest tech cities in the entire world, with some of the brightest tech developers – programmers, engineers & circuit designers! I’ve met engineers who could design something like this on their lunch break.

  3. Chris,
    Its up and running on the Swan Island TMA website…and looks good; thanks! ….except the text is a bit misleading. It should read “85 Swan Island to Rose Quarter” not
    “85 Rose Quarter TC.” Maybe no big deal, but its good to have names correct, etc.
    I will try to get this on local businesses sites, Freightliner especially, and would love to have a reader board at the shelter at Anchor & Channel with this info.
    The 85 Swan Island was one of only 10 TriMet lines (including MAX lines) that saw a 4% or better ridership growth in 2005. It puts almost every Swan Island employee 8-12 minutes from MAX at the Rose Quarter.
    Currently about 1 in 4 Swan Islanders (25%) do NOT get to work alone in their private vehicles. About half the non-drive alone trips are carpools, the balance are vanpools (5 from Clark county), TriMet and the Swan Island Evening Shuttle (operate by RAZ) and bike/walk commutes. Freightliner Corp HQ was again in the 10 Top in this years Bike Commute Challenge for organizations with 500 or more employees. The bike racks were full at Freightliner in September.
    Lenny Anderson, Project Manager, Swan Island TMA
    “Moving freight by creating and promoting transportation options.”

  4. Lenny, thanks for being the first partner for Transit Board!

    The route text is TriMet’s. Maybe at some point we’ll create an ability to override it.

    Note that when you ask employers to put this on their web sites, we can customize the colors, fonts etc. to better match their site.

  5. Chris –

    If you can configure this app on a web server where a specific fixed URL can give you self-refreshing information about a particular stop and routes, then anybody anywhere can set up a full-screen browser on an LCD panel for their customers/patrons to see! It could spread quite rapidly.

    Justin –

    Regarding updating the displays in the transit mall… the current shelter design is endangered. It may be eliminated in the mall rebuild.

    The next CAC design subcommittee meeting is in early February if you want to see what they are coming up with and put in a word for the old shelters. I try and stick up for the old shelters at almost every CAC meeting, but there is must momentum against keeping them. :-(

    – Bob R.

  6. Are you getting this data directly from TriMet in some sort of usable feed, or are you just screen-scraping their transit tracker?

    I wrote a WML version of transit tracker (before TriMet provided one) and they told me at the time that they were planning on providing some XML and/or webservice version of transit tracker “soon” (this was years ago) but I haven’t heard anything from them since.

    So I’m curious!

  7. Chris, I’d like to create a Transit Board at my office. (We already have a short cut to TriMet’s Transit Tracker on most of the computers in our office) How difficult would it be to set it up? We are MulvannyG2 Architecture at 601 SW Second Avenue in the ODS building.

  8. Sounds good Chris. I’ll send you something. My only question now is whether or not our IT department will go for it. They tend to frown upon software that is constantly pinging a server somewhere and therefore unecessarily taking up bandwidth.

  9. Scott, you can tell your IT folks it uses the latest technology, AJAX and JSON, to keep the data packets very small (a few hundred bytes) to keep bandwidth requirements low (after all, Portland Transport has to pay for the bandwidth on our end).

  10. Interesting, Chris. Thanks, yes I wil tell them. I ran it past the guy in our office and he thought it was “pretty cool.” He also pointed out that we could reduce the refresh rate from 15 seconds to every minute or two. We ran a little test page on his box to view it. Could you change one thing for us? I’d like it to show the Yamhill District Eastbound MAX lines and the 2nd & Morrison Westbound MAX lines only at this point.

  11. Scott, the refresh rate is actually dynamic. It checks at 15 second intervals for the first 15 minutes, then drops back to one minute intervals. The idea is that if you pulled it up to look for a bus NOW, you want very fresh data. If you leave it up for a while, it’s probably not so critical.

    The update packet for your board is running just under 1K, so that means in the first 15 minutes, you’re burning 60K of bandwidth – I think that’s less than the yahoo home page, and way less than the background graphic for Portland Transport :-)

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