Jarbury over at Auckland transport recently had some trouble with Auckland’s journey planner. Now, public transport journey planners are an excellent idea, and a really useful tool, but they have a tendency to throw up odd results. Jarbury got offered a 4-bus trip, which included a school bus, to travel what should have been a fairly simple trip that could have been done with a short walk and a bus trip, or two buses.
I was in Perth in January, and used the Transperth journey planner to get around a bit, which worked well. However, on one occasion, I was testing my options for a long trip arriving quite early in the morning (possibly going from North Coogee to the airport before 9:30). The journey planner offered me an epic 13-hour trip; starting the night before, taking a bus, then a train, camping out in the train station for 8 hours or so, then taking another bus, and then a long walk. Not really a feasible journey.
Metro’s Journey Planner, however, I haven’t had any real problems with. Its main problem is that its dated now, and its be hard to read. Things like the total price are difficult to discern. Also, its answers vary on how precise you want to be – for instance, I live roughly halfway down a perpendicular street with bus stops at either end, one stop has one route, the other stop has 5. If I give my address, it will only offer me the closest stop (1 route), but if I just give the street name, it will give me both stops, plus an Orbiter stop as well. The map works, but needs upgrading, and like Auckland’s, it needs integration with Google Maps. The best journey planner is Wellington’s, which does it exactly as it is meant to be – clear, concise, and with Google Maps.
There’s another tool I wanted to show, Orsome Software’s Metroinfo app for iPhone. I think that its the first of its kind in New Zealand, and its made by a private company – I’m not sure what, if any, involvement Metroinfo had in it. The app allows you to view the route maps, check your metrocard balance, get real-time info at any bus stop, as well as getting a list of nearby bus stops using GPS. Especially important, it uses the bus’s own GPS trackers, so its not limited to the bus stops that have the real-time info boxes or screens.
The only problems with it is that you can’t pick a destination and show nearby bus stops to that destination – you would need to search for the destination in Google Maps, then open Metroinfo app and find a route that passed nearby. The other problem is, its only useful if you’ve got an iPhone. It costs $1.29 from iTunes.