[Ed note: Since this post, Transit To Go has expanded to many cities across Canada, and is now called Transit 360.]
Making public transportation simpler for the Haligonian bus traveller, Nova Scotia based IT firm MindSea Development has created and launched its first iPhone application, Transit to Go, which offers its users transit information by both route number and location.
Metro Transit provides reliable service, but this system can be difficult to navigate and decipher, even for experienced riders, especially when traveling at non-peak times and from stops not detailed on the paper- based schedules. Patrons can struggle when determining what route to take at different times throughout the day, the nearest stop location at any given point, and the exact time of the buses’ scheduled arrival. Transit to Go has been developed to respond to this challenge, providing a user-friendly guide to the peninsula’s transit system for the commuting iPhone owner.
The application, the brainchild of software developers Dmitri Dolguikh, Willliam Lachance and Bill Wilson, is simple: when using Transit to Go, a patron can either input a stop number into the “Look up Stop” screen, or use the “Around Me” option and have the device’s GPS technology, or the manual entry of an address, aid in determining the location and schedule of nearby stops.
For the data that fuel the Halifax iteration of Transit to Go, an application that will begin to unroll in other select Canadian cities after its inaugural, East Coast launch, the group of developers turned to the local online route-planner, hbus.ca, developed by Lachance in spring ’09. This site not only provides the software “brains” behind Transit To Go, but is also the only publicly available source of machine-readable bus and route schedule information in Halifax. Unlike transit operators such as the ETS in Edmonton, or the SFMTA in San Francisco, Metro Transit does not release its route information to the public—although, since hbus.ca was created, Metro Transit has privately released this information to Google Transit, a Google web service. The detailed stop information used by hbus.ca and Transit to Go was gathered by hand using a bike and a handheld GPS device.
Transit to Go is the result of three local developers coming together in the right place at the right time. During Halifax Weekend, held at the Hub Halifax in late March 2009, Wilson, who had despairingly crossed off “transit iPhone application” from his to-do list since Halifax’s route information was not publicly available, met Lachance—a man with the missing link. Add Dolguikh, also in attendance, to the equation, along with the visual talents of Nick Brunt of Hi There Web Design and Marketing, and you have the team behind a useful tool for accessing the transit system presented in an innovative, simple and attractive interface.
“Creating a transit application for the iPhone is a perfect fit,” says Wilson, pointing out the device’s mobility and innate GPS capabilities. “Recently, one of my good friends created and launched the Red Rocket, a transit app for Toronto. Ever since, I’ve thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to do this for Halifax?’”
The Halifax iteration of Transit to Go has been made available for purchase as of January 15, 2010, on the iPhone App Store. Please visit www.transittogo.com for more details.
About the MindSea Team
Dmitri Dolguikh: In addition to 10 years of experience as a software developer, Dolguikh brings Masters in Engineering degrees in Control Systems from Moscow State University of Aerospace Technologies, as well as in Internetworking from Dalhousie University, to the table. His career has included the development of large-scale enterprise software, as well as of desktop, web and mobile software. Dolguikh, an advocate of feedback driven approaches, lives and works in Halifax, NS.
Nick Brunt: Currently working as principal designer of his own company, Hi There, Nick has been working as a Halifax-based designer with a focus on web and design for usability for the past six years. He is also working as an illustrator and artist, continuing to show artwork with Argyle Fine Art. Brunt lives and works in Halifax, NS.
William Lachance: Lachance is a software developer with over seven years of industry experience. He is currently employed by the Navarra Group, an independant software consultancy that he helped co-found in 2008. In spring 2009, he launched the popular hbus.ca bus travel-planning site for Halifax. Lachance holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Computer Science and Philosophy from the University of Toronto and currently lives and works in Montreal, QC.
Bill Wilson: Wilson’s career in software development began in the mid ’90s with a consumer software-updating tool, and has since had him working on such projects as aerospace software and corporate instant messaging software. Most recently, he has dove into the world of Mac and iPhone software, with a focus on community-based projects that has brought him on board Halifax’s Apps4Good initiative. As the principal consultant for MindSea, Wilson is mindful of team dynamics, iterative development and constant improvement. He brings experience in the entire project life cycle to his management role, including business analysis, project management and delivery. Wilson, who when not creating software can be found building and flying kites, lives and works in Halifax, NS.
Contact: Bill Wilson Principal Consultant, MindSea Development Inc. [email protected] 902.452.8492
Secondary Contact: Nadine LaRoche Principal, Interrobang Inc. [email protected] 902.877.8118