Following an interview with ABC Canberra Radio this week, the Imagine Team, a group of ANU Students who have developed a prototype ACTION Timetable App for smartphones, have found an ally in ACT Greens transport spokesperson, Amanda Bresnan MLA.
The App, known as ‘My Bus 2.0’ is designed to enable commuters equipped with a smartphone to access timetable information and find their nearest bus station on the go. Whilst a smartphone user could also access the ACTION website for timetable information, the team believe there is far more potential in their application.
Future expansion could see it linked to GPS tracking of buses to enable a user to see exactly where their bus is at any given time, provide real-time timetabling, the ability of commuters to check their MyWay smartcard balance or even top it up, plan a bus journey and receive notifications and updates.
In order to make the basic functions of timetable information a reality, the Imagine Team approached the Transport Planning division of Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS) to request release of timetable data for inclusion in the app. The request was declined, with TAMS citing their own plans to unveil a website based journey planner in the middle of the year and an existing project announced back in June 2009 that would see ACTION routes available to Google Maps users.
Whilst the Google Maps and Journey Planner site could be accessed from smartphones, both require an internet connection. When users find themselves in an area of poor reception or no internet connection, the offline timetable data stored in the application would still be accessible.
Following the release of their journey planning website, TAMS say that a phone app would follow. Asked whether the Imagine Team could be involved in the development of the app, Paul Peters, Director of Planning Transport for TAMS told ABC Radio “There may be some room when we get into that next stage for them to take some roles.”
ACT Greens Transport Amanda Bresnan MLA has now lodged a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act for the ACT Government to release data to enable third party applications to be developed.
“ACTION were recently approached by a group of young entrepreneurs who had designed a professional transit planning app for the ACTION Bus system. Instead of encouraging the initiative shown by these people, the Government turned them away,” Ms Bresnan said.
“It’s hard to understand why the Government would refuse to accept a ready-made bus app that would build patronage and revenue for the ACTION service. “As a TAMS transport planner admitted last year, ACTION are making it as hard as possible for people to catch a bus in the ACT.”
* Download the prototype version of MyBus 2.0 from the Android Marketplace
* Sign the group’s petition.
* Discuss the topic at ACT Bus Forum
* Email the team at mybus2.0 (at) gmail (dot) com