From Metro CEO Art Leahy’s daily email to staff:
Metro’s Nextrip Bus Arrival Information System has recently reached the one-million hits per month milestone. Seventy percent of the users are using the web and 23% percent are using mobile phones to access the information.
Although the SMS/Text feature is not the most commonly used feature of the system, the SMT/Text feature does appear to be the most popular feature among the younger student population. Moreover, Metro’s SMS/Text users are ranked number one in usage in comparison to many similar transit systems in the United States (i.e. transit systems in San Francisco, Boston, Washington DC, etc.).
The American’s with Disabilities Act community is also starting to show an interest in the Nextrip system with an overall four percent usage rate, which represents a 50% increase in month-to-month usage. Nextrip signage continues to be installed on the streets with about 1,816 plaques, which includes Braille raised cube inserts. Finally, testing is underway to add rail arrival information to the Nextrip system.
A few follow-ups: Metro staff says that beta testing of the rail arrival information could begin in the first few months of 2012, pending Board approval. That’s great news — and I know something that many Source readers want.
Also, the number of hits coming from mobile phones is probably higher than expressed above — the number depends on how some of the data is categorized.
Finally, here’s the link for the desktop version of Nextrip and here’s the mobile version. I’ve found the mobile version to be very reliable — all I need to do is open the app and it tells me when a variety of buses will arrive to nearby locations. It’s also easy to customize to get quick information about a particular bus line.
If you haven’t tried it, please do so. It makes the bus system a lot more convenient – you don’t have to sit at the bus stop wondering when the next bus will arrive.
How has Nextrip worked for you? Do you like it? If you want to see it expanded to Metro Rail, comment please!
Nextrip is a pathetic, inept BOONDOGGLE that cannot handle the voice-prompts it puts callers in the position of utilizing when attempting to access its alleged “Nextrip” feature! The idea of expanding this to the light-rail system, is ANOTHER waste of money, since: a.) the system rarely works for the bus lines, and b.) many light-rail systems ALREADY HAVE screens/electronic messages that state WHEN a “Next Train” is coming! Quit wasting money on this, and either fix what does not work, or give it up altogether! Expand it? Not even!
I think the main reason why sometimes you get false positives is because of the frequency of the buses reporting its location to the Control Center and then having that information disseminated through the internet. There is always going to be a lag between those times. That’s why it’s always helpful to arrive a few minutes before the arrival time so as to not miss the bus. Also, traffic and other factors also tie into the recalculation of the arrival times. In DC, Metro is having problems mainly with alot of buses not being able to transmit their location and such correctly and the systems behind it are aging and are due to be replaced around 2013. Ironically, it is the same AVL system that LA uses and I think has about a 2 minute poll time so most predictions have about a 2 or so minute bias.
Perhaps a way to address the long list of bus lines would be to group them by regional service sector; that might be more intuitive than by first digit.
Phone is Samsung M800
Operating system is AU-MIC
Even if the links on the list of buses had been working properly, it’s still a bad idea to present a user with a list of hundreds of buses, especially since you know that they are likely on a mobile device with a tiny screen. It took almost a minute just to scroll down to the 733 that I wanted. Perhaps you could break them up into separate pages by the first digit instead?
Nextrip has not been very reliable, at least, after 6pm at Wilshire and 4th St. in Santa Monica. There have been instances when Nextrip would say a 720 Bus was arriving and then would reset the countdown, at least three times!
i love using next trip on my cellphone. but sometimes it makes me angry because it doesn’t text back and i have no idea when the bus is coming. when i first found out a next trip i love it but more often i can’t get a text back so it can be frustrating sometimes but i do use it a lot and it’s helpful.
Nextrip is not as great as advertised. It’s supposed to tell you in “real time” when the bus is coming, but I’ve had more than a few occasions when the status is just “due”, or it is still counting down to a bus that has departed. In essence, it has the same functionality of Google Maps in predicating transit times, without any of the other advantages of a maps program.
Expanding to Metro Rail wouldn’t be so helpful. Most rail stations have status monitors that list the next train. And if they didn’t exist, you’d be relying on a cell phone app that won’t work on the underground Red and Purple lines. I suppose you could check it at home before you left, but again, why wouldn’t you use Google or Metro.net’s trip planner, both of which are more robust planning tools.
I tried to use the nextrip website last night on my phone. I fiddled with it for 5-10 minutes, but couldn’t get it to work. I had to scroll down the page for over a minute, and the names of bus lines didn’t seem to be links; just a list. Metro, if you want to borrow my phone to debug, please contact me.
What kind of phone and operating system?
Editor, The Source
This is what I have been waiting for. My fellow riders and I have often wondered when this would be implemented. This is great news. If there is anything I can do to hurry the process along I’m up for it.
If someone could make a system that meant you could access data but not talk on a cell phone in the subway stations, I’d be all for it. However, I’m not wild about the idea of dozens of people carrying on cell phone conversations at the same time in an enclosed area such as a Red Line station, particularly because most of them will think they need to talk EXTRA LOUD to be heard.
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Not really sure how train arrival data will help when you cant even get a phone signal when in the redline stations.
Good point about getting a signal in the subway station. But I think this is helpful to people who live and work near rail and are trying to figure out when to get to the station to get the next train.
Editor, The Source
Too bad its completely WORTHLESS when it comes to getting bus arrival information! Half the time it does not understand ANY “voice prompts”, requiring an OPERATOR ASSISTED CALL! Why even have this system, if a human will wind up getting the information anyway?
The rail arrival info would be much more helpful if there was cellular service in the Red/Purple Line stations and tunnels. I remember there being a contract discussed (and possibly issued?) to get us connectivity on the subway. Any news on this front?
Not only do I use it, I can’t imagine how life was with transit BEFORE it!! It hasn’t been perfect of course, but it has greatly improved my experience with Metro. And one big happy face for adding the rail routes. I’ve until now relied on Metro’s tweets plus my iPhone’s iDisk to just look up the train tables I’ve saved, but they’re not always reliable to current reality vs schedule, hence the tweeting godsend. Real-time times though? Wonderful.
Random idea to improve Nextrip: have the bus driver send live updates on the availability of bike racks. If the bike racks fill up, they flip a switch that updates a status field included with the rest of the Nextrip data. That way a rider would know whether it was worth waiting 20 minutes for the next bus instead of biking themselves.