New Front-End for RTA Route Scheduling!!

Submitted by johnmcgovern on Tue, 05/01/2007 - 15:26.

A Case student has created a new front-end for RTA's Scheduling interface.  I, for one, think it is a vast improvement over RTA's site.  While I am most impressed by this user-friendly application of technology, I am also intrigued by the Django technology used to create this web app.

Here is a sample schedule for the current time of day for the #326 (Detroit-Superior) Route, which I often ride.

^Simply modifying the route number on the end of URL will call up a new timetable based on the current time of day.

I envision that this technology would have great applications in the mobile web-enabled device market and thereby make the bus as convenient as the car, so long as the busses are running on schedule!

RTA hire Brian Beck

As a lifelong bus rider I have to say--hire that guy!  Personally, I don't plan on joining the legions of hand-held device carriers anytime soon, but this convenience must be available in Europe by now.

again, I say talk to those trimet guys

More than a year ago, I was wading around trying to figure out how to sell Ari Maron's condos on west 6th Street by saying, you can put your bike on a bus and ride the towpath trail to the valley intersection with the Emerald Necklace and up the east or west way back home (this because it will be a while before the trail is completed to downtown. I simply couldn't figure it out, but felt sure there was such a thing as a finder, scheduler -- something to simplify the bus route thing that was not a PDF the size of my very large desk.


I found the best one and it is in Portland. I even called these guys and had some correspondence with them. The transit pages are a virtual portal to Portland, and I bet the rental car companies do a crappy business there because the transit is so good. The guys I spoke with said that two guys who know cgi and perl whatever that is, made it up 10 years ago and they keep tweaking it weekly to make it even better. Check this out Cleveland branding and travel and convention or even Cleveland picnic hawkers. This is a city with assets and they are all accessible by public transit on your desktop, laptop and PDA.


So I called RTA and spoke with Rich Enty who said, they were about to launch their very own trip planner. But wouldn’t you know it, I tested the software they bought (it’s what they use in Columbus), and you can’t get there from here. I tried to go from OSU Main Campus (Wexner Center at High Street) to the airport at 5pm on a weekday – nope, you can’t get there from here. Well, they had bought it already, so I just walked away – too late.


Did they look for local programmers to research best solutions and work with CVB to create their landmark mapping? I doubt it. I am pleased to know that someone is tinkering with it, but I am sorry that with all the techno geeks here, we couldn’t have created a portal to Cleveland via our transit as trimet has for Portland. I guess it just goes to show that the zeitgeist in Cleveland is that the bus and the train are for people who can’t afford to drive. “Don’t invest in that, that does not serve me, the folks with money must think, “It’s for creeps and weirdos.”


I commented on a vision for RTA here and here.

I made some suggestions for promotion to RTA:

Promotion ideas  --"instead of driving to work today, I read the newspaper, answered all my email, planned a meeting, knitted a sweater, closed a deal, got a date, finished my homework, studied for the bar exam, authored a webpage." I'm sure there are lots of sexy ideas someone can think of that represent the sorts of things people could do instead of driving. This is footage of people on a rail car.


You see the handsome 25 year old drop dead gorgeous guy in a $3,000 suit getting on the bus while saying into his cell phone, "I will be there at 10. My driver is picking me up right now". You see him with the laptop open. He steps off the bus and walks into a building and into well appointed offices, greeted by a sexy assistant who hands him his mail. He closes the office door and takes a long look at Lake Erie. The sky is BLUE and clear. The narrative talks about how his company rewards his use of public transit. "RTA gets you where you need to go"


Image of a mid-career well appointed woman using her PDA to do trip planning in a coffee shop. She drops the PDA in her briefcase and steps out the door and onto a bus. "Get there on the RTA."


Leave your car at home: carpooling to the park and ride. The guy kisses his Beamer goodbye and gives it a pat as he jumps into another's car. They exchange "how about those Browns? They walk from the park-and-ride lot to board the bus briefcases in hand. The moral: money saved, NOX and VOCs saved, time saved.


Alternately you see the guy who is sitting in his car in traffic, sitting in line at the parking garage, driving around and around the parking structure. He's frustrated. You see the guy on his bike putting it in the rack and then getting off, locking it and bounding up the steps of the big building downtown and then the signed document, the handshake and smiles all around. “Getting to work -- rack and roll makes it easy." The bike guy is fit, the other guy is overweight and the close is the overweight guy looking forlorn as he plods on the stationary bike at the gym at 9 p.m.

On a beautiful spring morning, you see a father and son in a central city neighborhood (identified by a street sign or other urban identifier) they are putting their bikes on the bus. As they ride, they look at each other. They are seen riding through the park, stopping by a stream or overlooking a ledge or meadow. The kid is turning over rocks in the stream or skipping stones as the father looks on "Get out of town on the RTA"


Working at home, I don't get out much, but I take the transit when I can. From where I live, it is pretty impossible -- read the service sucks. I think nonprofit orgs and businesses could drive this by linking to a trip planner from their websites along with the usual driving directions and maps and parking info, but whatever. I hope we can one day ride the wind in Cleveland and find out where to go by visiting rather than opening a newspaper.


RTA are you reading this?

A few weeks ago, I took the RTA 50 line from my neighborhood to University Circle for a library discussion of our civil rights.  It's the slow boat.  It takes a scenic, leisurely 1 hour traveling along Harvard and MLK.  Needless to say, I was late for the presentation.  I wanted to avoid the bus-train transfer game.  Nonetheless, this route has real potential and could be improved to provide valuable cross-town transportaton.  I put the suggestion in my comments to Ohio Canal Corridor and their consultants for the proposed Towpath Trail Alignment north of Harvard Ave.  This should be the real Opportunity Corridor for investment, not a veiled super highway system.

Nice uses of technology

Very cool

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