IMG_2054The Transit App gave the Puget Sound a very quiet, but welcome update last week. The long-awaited—and constantly requested—integration of scheduled data for Community Transit was finally dropped into the app service. You won’t see any real-time data for Community Transit buses just yet, but you can find out when the next scheduled departure is expected along with the convenient trip planning that the Transit App supports. Transit App developers say that they are still perfecting the data integration, but it’s pretty reliable from personal experience.

One interesting feature of the new Community Transit data are the color swatches in the app’s Nearby Mode. The Transit App differentiates each service type of Community Transit by color unlike the King County Metro-operated routes–which are universally blue. Community Transit routes are easy to pick out with baby blue (local routes), green (Swift, also has emblem), orange (commuter routes), and navy (Sound Transit Express buses operated by Community Transit).

To take advantage of the update, users of the Transit App need only open their app. Data for new services is automatically pushed out to the app. Essentially, the app is localized for users so that they automatically get every service and route presented to them based upon their current region. For instance, if a user is in Seattle, but pans all of the way across the US to DC, the app will automatically present data from the DC region.

This update adds dozens of more routes in the Puget Sound region making an already comprehensive multi-modal app service just that much better. Community Transit joins a long list of local transportation organizations that are already providing public data to Transit App. On the transit side of things, the Transit App is integrated with King County Metro* (buses, ferries, and streetcars), Pierce Transit*, Sound Transit* (buses, commuter rail, and light rail), Intercity Transit, Kitsap Transit, and Washington State Ferries data. The app service is also plugged into three local transportation sharing services: Pronto!, Car2Go, and Uber.

There’s still a few other Puget Sound transit agencies that we hope developers at the Transit App will include in the future. Our ranked wishlist includes the following: 1. Whatcom Transit Authority, 2. Everett Transit, 3. Skagit Transit, 4. Island Transit, and 5. Amtrak Cascades. Adding these five agencies would fully round out the local public transit agencies to give local Puget Sounders seamless data from the Canadian border to the State Capitol.

On a final note, Community Transit is still in the process of perfecting their real-time data system before launching their own Bus Finder app and service. Presumably, this will eventually lead to developer-accessible real-time information, too. But whatever the future holds there, it’s great to see an agency like Community Transit provide scheduled data for their buses now. Today’s riders get the benefit of open data from services like the Transit App who can transform those pieces of data into a consumable way that highlights a variety choices on-the-fly. That’s a huge win for all.

*Service providers providing real-time arrival information on buses, except those operated under contract by Community Transit.

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Stephen is an urban planner with a passion for sustainable, livable, and diverse cities. He is especially interested in how policies, regulations, and programs can promote positive outcomes for communities. Stephen lives in Kenmore and primarily covers land use and transportation issues for The Urbanist.

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Ben Bodenmiller

Interestingly I’m seeing Everett Transit data in trip planning directions but not the nearby routes screen.

Stephen Fesler

Didn’t know this though. We’ll share that with them to get details.

Ben Bodenmiller

Word is it’s still in testing. The data from Everett Transit is incorrectly formatted & shouldn’t be shown yet.

frank discussion

As I frequently have the choice of buses from multiple transit providers, I would rather see all of the transit agencies in a single app rather than having to have multiple apps to be able to see whose bus is where. To have one’s own app is not only inconvenient and impractical, but it’s a waste of taxpayer’s money and calls into question the decision-making process in an era where we’ve seen service cut, some of which may have been saved otherwise. Unfortunately, though, there’s no accountability.

Ben Bodenmiller

Couldn’t agree more.

Ben Bodenmiller

According to The Transit App the realtime data is supposed to be live.

Stephen Fesler

For Community Transit? This is not currently available.

Ben Bodenmiller
Stephen Fesler

Right, we chatted with them about that. Still not available.


Is this the next generation of One Bus Away – or is it competing with it?

Stephen Fesler

This is completely separate from OBA. I wouldn’t say they are competing. OBA has some unique features like details for ADA and non-public data like Everett Transit data and Harborview private buses. That said, OBA is not a particularly advanced app, and certainly not as universal as Transit App, which serves a variety of mode services and over 90 metropolitan areas.

Ben Bodenmiller

Worth noting most, if not all, of the transit app Puget Sound data does come directly from the OneBusAway backend.