OneBusAway arrives in Tampa!

For instructions on how to use the One Bus Away Tampa applications, click here to go to the HART website.

Back in March of 2013, I blogged about Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) getting onboard with real-time transit tracking software. Well folks! It’s almost time for the public roll-out of OneBusAway Tampa! In fact, the public launch will be tomorrow, August 19! And I am very excited to see HART officially enter the realm of real-time transit updates!

Overview

OneBusAway is the same open-source GTFS software that the New York City MTA uses for its Bus Time and Train Time interfaces. The program allow passengers to not only view schedules, but also track the status of their next bus. If the bus is delayed by more than 5 minutes, a notification will appear in the database letting passengers know that the bus is behind schedule. With these real-time bus tracking programs, there’s no more having to wait on the phone while a customer service representative contacts dispatch, which can often be a very lengthy process! And if dispatch is tied up with several different incidents at one time, it can almost be impossible to get in touch with them to just know the location of your bus.

The beta version of HART’s interface was launched back in February, 2013, and HART announced the public roll-out of the software back at the end of July. However, one of my fellow transit bloggers pointed out to me a few days ago that he was already able to use the smartphone app.

You can get an overview of what OneBusAway will provide to the HART system by clicking here. To view a HART flyer announcing the service, click here. To view HART’s blog post, click here. To read a Tampa Tribune article on the launch, click here.

How does the New York City MTA’s software work?

Since the OneBusAway application for Tampa will not formally launch until Monday, I thought I would provide a quick look into how the web-based application for the NYCMTA works. OneBusAway has been available to NYCMTA customers for quite some time now. Customers can visit mta.info or download the respective OneBusAway app onto their smartphones.

Currently, OneBusAway is only available for selected subway, commuter rail, and bus services. For instance, data is currently available for Lines 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and the 42nd St Shuttle Line. In the future, the MTA will expand its offering to other lines and services. Another thing to note is that only some smartphone and tablet platforms are supported; the Apple iPhone and iPad are among the supported platforms. This will expand in the future as well.

So let’s try the MTA Subway Time interface for a moment…

  1. I visited mta.info, scrolled down to about the middle of the page, where there’s a box that reads MTA Travel Time, and selected the Subway Time link.
  2. Just for kicks, I selected Line 1 from the list of available subway lines (it’s because I really like the South Ferry station).
  3. On the next page, you will see a listing of stations in the left-hand pane. Just click the station you want to view times for. I selected South Ferry.
  4. Departure times will appear in the right-hand pane.
  5. If there is a delay or scheduled construction event, notifications will appear on the page.

What can we look forward to tomorrow?

For one thing, I truly think that the launch of OneBusAway in Tampa will provide for ease of use for the customer and efficiency for HART staff. No more second-guessing an arrival time for a bus, or waiting on the phone for a response from dispatch. Everything you need to know to get around via transit will soon be at your fingertips!

Don’t forget about the HART service changes for Routes 9, 37, 47LX, and 400! The bulk of the changes go into effect tomorrow also!

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