Greater Greater Washington

Transit


Transit Near Me shows your transit choices

For the last few months, I've been working with Eric Fidler and David Alpert at the Mobility Lab in Arlington to build tools to help people better understand transit. We'd like you to beta test one of our first creations, Transit Near Me.


Transit near Clarendon.

Transit Near Me is a web application that shows you transit options around your location, or any other spot in the region. Load the site on your computer or smartphone and it will show all the bus and train lines near your current location. Or click on another spot to see transit near there. If you zoom out, you can see where all of those lines can take you.

Although our region has a great many transit options, people aren't often aware of services near their home or workplace. The bus system in particular can be very confusing, since the many different lines make maps hard to read.

How often have you seen a bus in your neighborhood and not known where it stops or where it goes? Transit Near Me tries to help people learn about nearby services that they might not be aware of in a simple and easy way.

The Mobility Lab, part of Arlington County Commuter Services, brought together people interested in transit and open data through a Hack Day and other events earlier this year. We've been developing this and other open source tools, which will ultimately be available to everyone through Arlington's regional transit resource, CommuterPage.com.

In the spirit of open source, want to show you early on what we're building. Transit Near Me isn't yet a complete product, but it does enough to let you benefit from it and give us your feedback.

Clicking on a stop's icon on Transit Near Me will open a small popup with information about the lines servicing that stop. Clicking on a route will show information about what line it is and where the route goes. In the coming months, we plan to add schedule information and arrival predictions to these popups.


Transit Near Me showing information for a single bus stop.

To reduce the visual complexity, Transit Near Me only displays the closest stop for each line, even if there are multiple stops nearby. It shows all of the service that's available in the area, even if some of the lines only run at certain times of the day or on certain days of the week. Ultimately, we hope to allow you to filter by time and date.

The site currently includes data from Metrorail, Metrobus, Circulator, and ART. It can easily incorporate any dataset in the GTFS (General Transit Feed Specification) format, the open format that many transit agencies around the country use to provide their routes and schedules to software developers.

Tools like Transit Near Me are possible because WMATA, Circulator, ART and a few other agencies provided their data in this open format and offer useful Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). This enables software developers to build tools that better inform riders and help transit agencies attract new customers.

In the near future, we hope to add data from other transit providers that are able to similarly release their data. In addition, we want to include other transit-like services such as Capital Bikeshare and slug lines, and add real-time arrival data.

Unfortunately, some of the publicly available route data has errors, so you may encounter some places where things don't look quite right. A future project could add a feedback form that lets users to mark spots that need correcting and even suggest the right routes.

We're interested in any feedback or suggestions on the app, please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Since this is just a beta release, you might encounter some bugs or find that it doesn't work perfectly on some browsers or mobile devices. Let us know about any problems you find, and we'll work to get them fixed.

As with all the fellowship projects, Transit Near Me is open source. You can find the code on github, and we welcome contributions from any interested programmers.

Comments

Add a comment »

Very, very useful app.

From 6th & M NW, it says the G8 bus goes north on 7th, south on 9th; it actually goes north on 11th.

by OctaviusIII on Dec 5, 2011 12:37 pm • linkreport

First of all, great job! I really like what you've done here.

One feature that might be useful is the ability to place two circles on the map and have the app show transit options that pass through both. This would be useful so I could put a circle around my location and my destination and see all the options.

Thanks for making this.

by jyindc on Dec 5, 2011 12:37 pm • linkreport

Looks awesome! Any plans to add MTA Maryland data so we Baltimorons can join in the fun?

by jfruh on Dec 5, 2011 12:43 pm • linkreport

Very usable. I like that you only plot the closest stop on each transit line. Makes sense!

by Mitch Wander on Dec 5, 2011 12:49 pm • linkreport

Can't use it at the moment... didn't spot a way to set a new location, and being in the Baltimore suburbs at the moment doesn't offer much to play with. But this sounds exactly like the app I've long-since dreamed of but hadn't had the expertise to create- so many thanks!

by Bossi on Dec 5, 2011 12:55 pm • linkreport

Bossi, you can double-click on any spot to see transit near there.

(This only works in the greater Washington area at present.)

If you're not in greater Washington, don't share your location with it, and it will default to the DC-Arlington area.

by Matt Caywood on Dec 5, 2011 1:11 pm • linkreport

Bossi, you can double-click on any location in the greater Washington area to see transit near there.

If you're not in greater Washington, when the app asks you to share your location, tell it no and it will default to the DC-Arlington area.

by Matt Caywood on Dec 5, 2011 1:13 pm • linkreport

Doesn't Google Maps already do this effectively? It has a find-my-location tool and shows bus stops and train stations with the next tar rivals for each.

by thedofc on Dec 5, 2011 1:16 pm • linkreport

@thedofc: This only works if the transit agency has agreed to provide data to Google Maps, which Arlington and Fairfax do not (and others).

by Michael Perkins on Dec 5, 2011 1:19 pm • linkreport

theofdc, Google Maps also still doesn't have bus stops for most of the DC services, and it just shows stops, not where they go. The point of Transit Near Me is to be able to see, at a glance, the transit service that's available and where it can go.

by David Alpert on Dec 5, 2011 1:28 pm • linkreport

Seeing bus routes traced out is good, and so is including ART (it has a GTFS feed, but Google has yet to pick it up). Wish I didn't have to click on each icon to see the route it represents. I also wish this included Fairfax Connector routes--but AIUI, that agency has yet to provide a schedule feed in the first place.

by Rob Pegoraro on Dec 5, 2011 1:34 pm • linkreport

This is a great tool. The fact that the bus lines are clickable makes it much more useful, but it has some issues in that when you click a section with overlapping lines it only displays one of those lines.

by MLD on Dec 5, 2011 1:55 pm • linkreport

Oooh. Source on Github. I may have some fun with this...

by andrew on Dec 5, 2011 1:57 pm • linkreport

So this is like a portable spider map? Great idea. Thanks for taking the time to do this. With some polishing, it will be the go to app for commuters.

by cmc on Dec 5, 2011 2:02 pm • linkreport

Could just be me, but there may be a bug in Chrome: When I click a bus symbol, the pop-up appears briefly then disappears, only showing the bottom portion of the bubble.

Otherwise, great work guys!

by led5033 on Dec 5, 2011 2:16 pm • linkreport

Thanks for the comments, all.

@led5033, can you provide any additional information about that bug, like your OS?

by Andy Chosak on Dec 5, 2011 2:39 pm • linkreport

Crashing on ios 5

by TGEOA on Dec 6, 2011 11:27 am • linkreport

Beautiful website.

Please add Maryland RideOn Buses!

Here is the bus route data set:
http://gtfs.s3.amazonaws.com/montgomery-county-md-ride-on_20101214_0856.zip

Here is the data-feed info: http://www.gtfs-data-exchange.com/agency/montgomery-county-md-ride-on/

by Walter1955 on Dec 6, 2011 11:37 am • linkreport

Seconding two suggestions:
1. Be able to put two circles on the map to see routes that pass through both of them.
2. Labeling the routes when they appear so you don't have to click on the stop icon to find the route - especially because clicking on the stop icon lets you know about all the routes that stop there, making it difficult to determine which is the one you were looking at.

Also, it would be great to add an address search function. The double-click to find location (as a few comments show) isn't terribly intuitive.

by julie on Dec 6, 2011 11:57 am • linkreport

@julie

You can click on any of the darkened route lines and it will highlight the route and the closest stop.

I do see a potential bug: if you double-click to select one area, then double-click and select another, it doesn't clear out your previously selected stops. Is there a way to clear the map?

by MLD on Dec 6, 2011 12:17 pm • linkreport

MLD: It should clear when you double-click to move the blue circle. What device/OS/browser are you using?

by David Alpert on Dec 6, 2011 12:54 pm • linkreport

@David

I'm using chrome; it's working properly now. Earlier, when I double-clicked to move the blue circle it would move the circle and make new stops show up, but the stops from the previous circle would remain.

by MLD on Dec 6, 2011 1:00 pm • linkreport

Ditto: it would be great to add an address search function.

by CCCA Prez on Dec 7, 2011 10:14 am • linkreport

Looks like it has some issues where bus lines split into couplets... one example I happened upon: WMATA's 80 near Kennedy Center.

Also the UI is *just* different enough from Google Maps that the lack of double-click zooming drives me slightly bonkers, but I was bonkers to begin with so that's just a minor grievance that I'd probably get used to with time, anyway.

by Bossi on Dec 7, 2011 3:07 pm • linkreport

nice. suggestions: 1) lighten the transit lines so you can still see the street names underneath. 2) when you click on a line and it brings up information, include hyperlink to transit webpage.

by Arnold on Dec 7, 2011 3:14 pm • linkreport

@David,

I had the same error as before randomly pop up. I selected one area, and was checking out at least 10 of the individual bus routes by themselves, then I went and selected another area by double-clicking and this was the result, notice how all the stops from the old selection are still there:

http://img819.imageshack.us/img819/7820/step1xg.jpg

by MLD on Dec 7, 2011 3:34 pm • linkreport

I'm finding quite a few routes with some funky routing now... still gets the general gist, but some kinks in a couple spots along the way.

One other thought (and I think a few others have mentioned it) -- provide a link to the transit agency's site, perhaps directly to each routes' respective page. Also consider linking it in with Nextbus so I can not only figure out what-all is near me; but is it worth the wait.

by Bossi on Dec 9, 2011 7:54 am • linkreport

Great looking app. The advent of reliable GTFS created thousands of new multi-modal commuters. (happier ones too) I agree that google already has the track on a fully integrated transportation app. I'd suggest you focus on commuters who still haven't made the leap from their car into metro, bus, bike, etc... You can inspire the "Eureka!" moment - the realization that public transport, with the right tools; saves time, money. and sanity.

I use Ride DC, NextBus DC, and Spotcycle (train, bus, and cap bike) everyday. These trips are routine and my priority is getting real-time data. (arrival times, service outages/delays, availability of bikes)

I use the Google Map function to find new routes. I find it very useful and improving. Google is able to aggregate the most data without creating sensory overload.

I think Transit Near Me's strength is it's simplicity. The generated map located at 16th/U St NW highlighted all my familiar routes accurately. The full out zoom provided the best overview of options compared to any other app I've used. It's perfect for when you need an alternate route because of a marathon, parade, visiting dignitaries motorcade creating havok at Connecticut/Rhode Island/M St during rush hour while on Shake Shake Run. (I'll never forgive Angela Merkle for that winner). If I where to move to a new part of the metro area, I would use Transit Near Me to get an overview of my new commute.

It wouldn't be an everyday app for me, but that's a good thing. My everyday apps can't do what Transit Near Me offers.

Keep up the good work!

by Andrew on Dec 10, 2011 2:29 pm • linkreport

Awesome, guys! I've been wanting an app like this for years but never found the time to build it myself...

by Andrew on Dec 12, 2011 9:09 am • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or

Support Us