TransLink Next Bus Information Via SMS
Gordon Ross points to two Simon Fraser University students who have created a service to get TransLink next bus information by text message (SMS), and an article in today's Vancouver Sun about Canadian mobile phone companies charging more than their European counterparts for Internet access. (Will Pate, in his del.icio.us bookmarks, points to an unscientific comparison between American and Canadian mobile data rates.) From the looks of it, Igor Faletski and John Boxall have next bus information for the 135, 143, 144 and the 145 from either SFU's main bus loop or residences, and the 145 from Production way, as well as whatever the next bus happens to be at any stop. TransLink has unique numerical IDs for each stop, some of which appear on the bus stop's sign, e.g. a stop in Coquitlam and another at Phibbs Exchange. The students are scraping the HTML generated by the TransLink website, so providing something like an open API or Google's Transit Feed will increase the opportunity for innovation around bus schedules, such as creating a site that lists events near bus stops and SkyTrain stations and the schedules for those stops without anybody having to manually update those schedules.
Igor and John are my new heroes, at least until the end of March, which is when they say on mytxt.ca that the experiment is slated to end. “If there is interest, we will work to make it permanent,” the site notes. I'm definitely interested, and I know others that would use this service multiple times a week, especially those who will have phones that integrate mapping directly.