Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Planning my public transit trip

I don't know if any transit system is doing this yet, but I have a killer idea on how to improve service and encourage people to use the bus and metro.

The problem
I was trying to figure out if there was a quicker/better way to get home from work. Route one gets me to within a few blocks of my home. Route two requires that I transfer to a second bus and gets me even closer to my home.

I checked the various bus schedules and bus stop times on the STM website to figure out which route was more efficient if I left work at, say, 5:45pm. For instance, while route one only requires me to take one bus, that bus doesn't pass by as frequently as the first bus in route two.

It took some time, but I was able to figure out which route would get me home quicker. But figuring that out sucked. My goal is to save time. Not waste time.

What if there was a way to automatically knowwhich route was best at the exact time you need to leave?

The killer idea
Here's the idea: Users of the STM website enter where they are, where they want to go, and at what time they want to leave. The system will analyze the various routes and recommend a route based on speed.

I don't think this would be very difficult to set up. The STM has already documented the exact time each bus arrives at each bus stop. Some computer programming could transform that data into a meaningful and useful trip planner for users.

There. That's my killer idea.

UPDATE: It turns out my killer idea has already been implemented by the STM on the website. You can do a trip planner here. Their server is slow, so be prepared to wait. Also, the interface could be improved. (The STM should open the source code to let developers create useful hacks. It would be neat to combine Google Maps or Google Earth with the data in the trip planner.

One of the problems, however, is the nomenclature. If you don't use the French street names, it won't find your street (for instance, you must write du Parc and not Parc and definitely not Park Avenue).

Now why the heck don't they promote this service more. This should be on the front page so you just have to have enter your intersection or postal code in a text box.

And, forgive me, but Tous Azimuts is a dumb name. Never heard it before. I checked the Le grand dictionnaire terminologique and it says it means 'All sky' in English. What the heck does that even mean?


Anonymous said...

This tool already exists. Try the "tous Azimuts" tool on the STM website http://www.stm.info/english/azimuts/a-index.htm

crammer said...

at least it looks/runs cleaner than the Ottawa city trip planner... http://www.octranspo.com/Intro_Trip_Planner.htm

Darryl said...

I just had a look at the Ottawa one. It way better than the Montreal one. I like how it includes a pre-set list of places like hospitals.