TriMet Arrival Times via Text Message

I’ve set up an interface to provide TriMet arrival times via text message. Usage of our cell phone web browser interface (the Transit Surfer) has been relatively light, and I’m wondering if web browsing is just too inconvenient on cell phones for this to take off (although I have hope for my iPhone).

So would texting be easier or more useful?

I’m using a general purpose SMS gateway service called 411sync.com. To get arrival times send a text message to 415-676-8397 or sms@411sync.com with the following message text:

trimet <stop #>

Example:

trimet 2719

(a stop on SE Holgate) returns at this moment: 17 Holgate to Portland: 23 min

This is still very much a prototype and I’m interest in opinion on how terse I can make the messages to get multiple lines into a message for stops with lots of buses serving them.

Here’s a set of possibilities based on the above example:

17 Holgate to Portland: 23 min
17 Holgate: 23 min
17: 23 min

How much information is really necessary, given that the person asking is probably already standing at the stop?

You’ll find the stop number at most TriMet stops, either on the schedule or on a stick on one of the signs.

Disclaimer: text message usage costs are the user’s responsibility! That’s between you and your carrier. Portland Transport and 411sync don’t charge for this (although I suspect that 411sync gets a cut from the carrier).

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