TriMet Pilots New Interactive Map

TriMet is now in beta-test on a new interactive system map.

For now it’s Firefox-only :-)


0 responses to “TriMet Pilots New Interactive Map”

  1. I just trying planning my route to work on it. I live in SE, between Hawthorne and Division, closer to Hawthorne. Yet, it insisted my fastest trip would be on the #4.

    So, I expanded the distance I’d be willing to walk to 3/4 mile. The result was that it was telling me that my best choice was to hike up to Belmont and catch the #15.

    Definitely still a beta version, but a cool tool when they get the bugs worked out.

  2. Coding an incredibly useful thing like this to run on exactly zero of the web browsing handsets available on the market today seems a bit stupid.

    Why aren’t they making this work with iPhone / Safari 3.x again? Windows Mobile? Symbian? Palm? Blackberry?

  3. MachineShedFred –

    It is my understanding that the Firefox limitation is only during development, because that’s what the developers are using. At some point, the deployment will be broadened to support more browsers.

  4. I like the idea and the interface, but yeah it’s just way too slow (hopefully they plan to add some additional bandwidth later). Forget about it over a dial-up connection.
    But then again, I know most of the system map in my head anyhow.

  5. Bob R. –

    As someone who works in Information Technology, and used to do Quality Assurance work for electronics manufacturers, I can tell you that functionality testing is much better done within the lab, using documented test plans and procedures. Compatibility testing is much better done in the wild, where a wide range of platforms and systems can be thrown at it without expenditure.

    “Public Beta” testing can serve two incredibly useful functions – stress testing the system by having way more users hitting it than your organization can muster; and compatibility testing because there are users out there that will use combinations of things you’ve never thought of, or didn’t know was possible.

    From using a desktop computer running Firefox, I can see that they are on the right track. However, any web developer worth their salt will *not* code specifically to one platform, especially one platform that doesn’t even have majority market share.

    If you’re going to make a tool that you want people to use, you need to make it accessable to the majority of people. Oh, and if you want to make it amazingly useful to people, make it available where it’s needed the most – when you’re standing on the corner of 21st and Powell wondering when the 9 is gonna show up, instead of when you’re still sitting at the office trying to figure out how long it’s gonna take to get to Powell, and then deal with the amazingly coincidental occurrence of the pedestrian signal screwing you as your bus leaves the stop on the other side of the street.

    Not that I’m bitter.

    However, it is worth noting that a little hacking proved useful to me over a year ago with the TransitTracker stuff to do exactly what they’re trying to do now with a bit of embed tag magic:

    Granted, the stops you see on there were the ones I cared about for when I was living in the Tanasbourne area, but it was still amazingly useful for figuring out if the 17 or 9 was gonna show up first, and which MAX train was gonna show up first.

    And it works in every web browser out there, including my iPhone.

  6. Fred –

    As a web developer, I can relate to the approach they are taking for creating an interactive JavaScript/AJAX application. It’s not the approach that I would have taken, but it is not outside the bounds of common industry procedures.

    There are a number of subtle, maddening distinctions between browsers, especially when crafting interactive applications. The more rigorous development method is to carefully code from the beginning for maximum cross-browser compatibility, testing all cases and making sure everything works right from the beginning. At first blush, this would seem to be the best approach for all cases, but in reality it can consume unnecessary time and resources up-front before you have a system which can be demonstrated.

    Another approach is to get your proof-of-concept up and running in just one browser, make sure the fundamental concept of your application is sound and bug free, then work backwards and discover/resolve the compatibility issues with other browsers. It appears that TriMet’s developers have opted for this approach. In the long run, it may take just as much time/resources to finally deploy this for all browsers as the first approach would have taken, but the advantage is that a wider array of users can preview and test the operating application early.

    I don’t know about the internals of the project, so I can’t say what their real reasons were for choosing the path they are following, but it just doesn’t strike me as a big tactical blunder.

    At least they chose an initial browser (FireFox) which is far more standards-based than Internet Explorer.

  7. To be fair, I tested this on one of the wired-networked computers at PCC earlier today (I have no clue how fast their network is, other than extremely), where it was actually a pleasure to use. Even though all the route lines are the same blue color, selecting a route from the menu both zooms the map over to where the route runs, as well as highlights it in red. It also appears to integrate the standard route map with a street-level-quality map (not just arterials and major side streets like the current printed map, the last printed one anywhere near this regard that I know of was dated Aug. 31, 2003) as well as the database of all the stops on the system; all in one application. Perhaps those with fast enough internet connections will no longer have the excuse of ‘riding transit is too difficult to figure out.’

    Another thing I thought of about the Firefox/Mozilla -only compatibility for now… I wonder if the people working on the project have hand-held PDAs that run on a Linux variant that run Firefox or even something like Minimo and are testing it in the field that way. Just a wild thought/guess!

  8. “And it works in every web browser out there, including my iPhone.”

    MachineShedFred – It don’t work in my browser! Firefox on Windows XP. I’m prompted to download missing plugs-ins, which “cannot be found”. I’m not blocking javascript/cookies or any of that.


    What’s wrong with the transit tracker via phone and using an actual map?

    Remember a map, its something you fold up?

    This is like that [expletive deleted] windows vista, lots a feces we don’t need!

  10. – Travel, History, and Portland Oregon –

    How would Portland’s transit system look today if the trolley coaches survived? Public ownership would still have been inevitable. A rail component for longer distance high density transportation would also be very likely, as evidenced cities such as San Francisco (Muni lightrail), Vacouver BC (Skytrain) and most recently Seattle (lightrail), which kept their trolley buses.

  11. “Nellie Said:

    Does anybody know if the TriMet system map is available as a kml file (for Google Earth)?”

    It is already in Google Earth via the layers feature. Expand the layer “places of interest” folder to reveal the “transportation” folder then expand the “transportation folder and check the boxes for bus, and tram (Google’s moniker for MAX).

    You will get all the bus routes and stops as well as MAX lines and stops.


  12. What’s wrong with the transit tracker via phone and using an actual map?

    An actual map is something else you need to carry. And gets beaten up.

    If they get this working with Google Maps for my phone, I don’t need to carry a map or download one from TriMet’s web site.

    Sorry, but you can keep your “actual” map. My map is updated regularly, part of the cost of having my phone, doesn’t need to be replaced from wear and tear more often than the phone I’ll have anyway, and is one less thing to carry.

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