Avoid information overload with schedules for riders’ favorite stops

Many bus riders have a routine that only involves a few stops — one near their home, and another near work, for example. Looking at a complicated schedule grid that shows stop times for every other stop on the route or in the system, then, is an experience of information overload, making riding the bus more complicated than it has to be.

Arcata Transit Center stop timetableRecently, Transit Information Solutions worked with Redwood Transit System to build a new feature that that generates custom at-a-glance transit schedules for stops. The timetables list all the hours in the day, with the scheduled service for each hour in a stem-and-leaf table design (see left).

This approach has the advantage of helping riders immediately identify hours with the greatest service opportunities as well as service gaps. All of the stop times function as links to a complete schedule for the trip they are part of, so riders can quickly see when they will arrive.

Since most regular bus commuters predominately use two stops, one near home and another near work, for example, the feature allows two timetables to be displayed alongside each other in a printable view. This makes it possible to produce a personalized transit schedule that can be tacked on a bulletin board or kept handy. Click here to see the feature in action.

One of the great things about the new feature is that it’s built over the same database and information management application that publishes Redwood Transit System’s schedules to Google Transit, and which produces schedule grids and downloadable schedules for iPods, mobile phones, and PDAs on their website, so it was not necessary to enter any new data, and it will be updated automatically with schedule changes.

This new feature was inspired by a blog post on Information Design and Public Transit at the Goodspeed Update, Rob Goodspeed’s website about urbanism and Washington D.C.

Rob Goodspeed wrote a follow-up post noting this feature as implemented on redwoodtransit.org.

This new feature also appeared on the blog of Permanent Campaigns, publishers of More Riders Magazine.

Aaron is the founding principal of Trillium Solutions, Inc. He brings experience that includes 12 years of web-development with 8 years in public transportation, with knowledge of fixed-route transportation, paratransit, rural transportation, and active transportation modes. Aaron is a recognized expert in developing data standards, web-application design, digital communications, and online marketing strategy. He originally developed Trillium’s GTFS Manager, and has played a key role in the development of the GTFS data specification since 2007.