For people who wonder if they might have missed the bus, or if it’s just late, there are a number of mobile device applications that can provide Utah Transit Authority (UTA) customers with up-to-date schedule information.
These apps not only show schedules and route maps, but also allow users to track where the bus is and show if the bus is running on time, late or early.
Some of the apps can also point out the location of the closest bus stop, show detours and allow users to set up alerts for buses.
“One of our main focuses is, of course, our customer,” says UTA spokesperson Gerry Carpenter. “We are always looking to find new ways to get more information to our customers to help them have a positive experience when they are riding public transportation.”
There are several apps for that
UTA made its real time data available late last year for third party developers to create apps for bus and train riders. Currently there are five low cost or free apps available, including HopStop, TransitTimes+, UTA Spy and UTA Tracker.
“Our data feed is available to any third party developer out there that wants to try and develop an app using that data,” says Carpenter. “Ultimately it is up to them how they want to present that to the customer. They support it themselves, and any feedback regarding those apps should go directly to that developer so that they can improve it.”
UTA’s tracking program is still in the beta stage, and some of the data is still buggy. Sometimes buses don’t transmit the proper GPS info, and some of the routes are missing.
“In general [third party apps are] fairly accurate and provides good predictive information as to when our buses and trains are going to arrive,” says Carpenter.
Eventually, UTA officials would like to see the apps take the place of paper schedules
Having the data available on mobile devices saves room in purses or bags and saves trees, though it relies on hardware that isn’t available for a large number of UTA’s customers.
Digital data makes paper schedules less needed, and changes can be updated more quickly. UTA officials hope that developers of the apps will make them user-friendly enough that all UTA customers who do have access to mobile devices will feel comfortable using the new technology.
With more and more people looking for ways to get information on mobile devices, UTA encourages app developers to use the data to create and make more apps available to their customers.
“Ultimately it is our goal to get as much good information to the hands of our customers as we can,” Carpenter says. “If they can have good information, they can make informed decisions and it makes their customer experience that much more pleasant.”