Monday, October 5, 2009

Reminder: please use the comments for support requests!

Dear PDX Bus Users,

Please use the comments from *any post* for support requests & feedback.  The comments for this blog are moderated,  so they will not appear on the blog until I have read them.  Alternatively, I can answer very short questions on twitter!

I use blog comments to maintain privacy for both me and users - my preference is not to email people directly about support for PDX Bus (so I do not have to maintain a list of email addresses, nor be accused of spamming anyone).  Apologies if you left me an email address requesting support - please write up your question as a comment - if you don't want it published please say so and I can still reply on the blog.

I can be contacted via twitter too - http://www.twitter.com/pdxbus - I tend to follow anyone who mentions PDX Bus or tweets @ me.

Here are some answers to some common questions:

  • I write this app in my spare time, for free, for fun as a hobby.
  • I ride TriMet every day, and so I use it every day. 
  • I don't have time to write any other applications!  This one takes up a surprising amount of time.
  • I don't work for TriMet and don't have insight into how they work.
  • The arrival times used in PDX Bus are exactly the same as the ones used on TriMet's Transit Tracker system.
  • At this time, I'm very happy with my job, and am not looking for work as an iPhone application developer.

Have fun!

84 comments:

Bland said...

Could you post the old version of the app, not requiring 3.1 on your site? I have an unlocked phone running 3.0.1 and I love your app
Bland@McCartha.com

ps an update that wouldn't require 3.1 would be awesome.
Thanks

Teleportaloo said...

Bland - The good news is that an update that does not require 3.1 was sent to Apple over a week ago, so it'll be in the app store any day now.. I hope. It seems to have be taking a bit longer than normal to get approved.

I'd rather not post the old version on this site just for jailbroken folks, probably by the time I have done it, Apple will approve the update!

Sorry about the mistake in posting the 3.1 version, I was rushing to fix the connectivity issues.

Ron Forrester said...

Hey, I just wanted to thank you for all the time you put into this app, for free. I am also an independent iPhone developer (with a day job as well), so I have some idea of the work you've put into this -- and I really appreciate it.

Cheers,
Ron

Teleportaloo said...

Bland - the version that will work on iPhone OS 3.0 has now been posted.

Ron - thanks!

Anonymous said...

Love your app. Thank you very much for all the time and effort you've put into it. I'm new to Portland and this app has been a god-send. mark

Teleportaloo said...

Tom wrote:

Hi! Absolutely love the app, use it daily and think it is great of you to do it for free and put it out there.

I do have what I think is a bug report for you though. I use the Rosa Parks station and on an irregular basis, the program comes up with a "Trip not Possible" message when using the Trip Planner.

When this occurs, the station ID is listed as 1502, dropping the first digit of the stop number which is actually 11502. At other times, it seems to go through fine even though it is still doesn't appear to be picking up the full stop code.

Don't know if this is an issue with the program or Trimet, but thought I would let you know.

Teleportaloo says
A quick check reveals that the app does send the correct stop to TriMet but it comes back with the wrong stop in the text result, but the server returns with the wrong result in the text, but not in the other data. I will investigate further - thanks!

Teleportaloo said...

Tom - TriMet got back to me, and there is a bug in the description for trips that have 5 digit stop IDs. However, we have not been able to reproduce the "Trip not Possible" message. This message normally appears when a leg of the trip is on a route with limited service hours.

Can you give me details for when you see this message (I need the time of the trip and the other end).

Thanks!

Teleportaloo said...

Tom - TriMet got back to me, and there is a bug in the description for trips that have 5 digit stop IDs. However, we have not been able to reproduce the "Trip not Possible" message. This message normally appears when a leg of the trip is on a route with limited service hours.

Can you give me details for when you see this message (I need the time of the trip and the other end).

Thanks!

Tom said...

Hi,

It used to happen every time, but now it seems completely random and is only once in a great while. When it does happen, I am using Rosa Parks as the starting location and somewhere downtown as the destination. I select the arrive by time and then get the message. I haven't been able to replicate it myself as of late and the last time it happened, I went back performed the exact same steps and it worked correctly. Perhaps it is a glitch not with the program but somewhere else along the line.

If I can get it to happen again, I will jot down exactly what I just did and try to take a screen shot. Is there any other information I could get for you that would help you replicate or track it?

Thanks!

Teleportaloo said...

Thanks Tom. A screen-shot would be great, if possible.

jwdoom said...

When did you add the map view for an entire bus route with all the stops marked? IT'S. SO. FREAKING. AWESOME. It saved my butt a few times already and I discovered it maybe three days ago. I'm gonna kick myself if it's been there for a while.

Teleportaloo said...

Hi jwdoom - the map was only added last week, on 16th November, so it hasn't been there long. :-)

Christian said...

One option that might be cool/useful would be the ability to take a photo of the stop ID# and immediately get next arrival time information. Just a thought.

Thanks for this fantastic app!
Cheers

Anonymous said...

You've created a great app here, and I appreciate it every day. No more waiting in the cold rain for the bus...I can time it perfectly now.

THANKS!!!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

hey! out of all the trimet apps i've tried, i'd hafta say that THIS one is the best out of them all! keep up the good work!

one minor thing that I wanna see changed is either: quicker startup loading times and/or get rid of the pic of the MAX at startup. aesthetically, I personally don't like there. it just doesn't feel right with the app. of course, if people still want it there, could you perhaps allow the option whether or not to display the pic? thx

Teleportaloo said...

Hi Anonymous - the startup time is as short as it can be now - it used to try to get the previous displayed arrivals but it no longer does anything with that picture showing. It isn't possible to make the startup picture optional.

Honestly, the picture is only displayed very briefly, and I have no problem with it. I do intend to change it occasionally - this is the second picture that I've had there, currently I don't have a replacement lined up.

Were you the person who gave it a 1-star review on iTunes as the picture was "hoaky"? :-)

Chris Shaffer said...

Personally, I like the picture. I do note that on my phone, "very briefly" is anywhere from 3-8 seconds, so it does seem to be on the screen for a long time compared to some other apps.

Dawn said...

Hi PdxBus. I love your app! I use it daily - not so much for myself, but for my teenage kid who uses TriMet all the time. He doesn't have an iPhone, so he texts me for arrival info or how to get from place to place. I just recently found the part where you can email a "trip" to someone. It would be very helpful if I could send him trip instructions directly from PdxBus via text message. Something to think about. Really appreciate you creating and working on this app.

Craig Moore said...

Nice app! Thanks for taking the time to build it. Would there be any way to set an alarm as you approach a given stop number for those of us who like to nap?

Teleportaloo said...

Craig - adding an alarm is on my list of things to add. I am not promising anything, but the iPhone 4.0 OS makes this easier.

Anonymous said...

Stop 12375 is not correct in this app. It is a streetcar stop adjacent to stop 12382. 82 goes north and 75 goes south. Both show northbound and times are incorrect.

Teleportaloo said...

Yup - that stop *is* wrong. The streetcar stops have to be "mapped" onto the TriMet stops and that one looks wrong. I'll fix it ASAP...

Teleportaloo said...

Dear Anonymous - the Streetcar stops will be fixed in the next release, and should be approved next week sometime.

Thanks for pointing out the problem - it turns out that the streetcar data from Next Bus is slightly more complex than I expected - they treat the two stops at 3rd & Harrison as the *same stop* and give the arrivals for both directions at once, and the app was just showing one of the directions, as you spotted. It has been like this for a while before anyone complained!

Anonymous said...

there's a glitch where I can't add new stop IDs when editing the bookmark

Teleportaloo said...

Oh dear - yes - adding a new stop ID to a bookmark by entering the number is broken.

Thanks so much for the feedback - I'll fix it in the next release!

Anonymous said...

Hi there. I just loaded this app yesterday and when I have it search for the nearest stations, it initially finds them but then loops continuously on Getting Arrivals. I've turned off the Auto Refresh option but it still loops. I'm running an iPhone 3G, version 4.2.1.
Any ideas?

Thanks.

Teleportaloo said...

I've had one other person see this issue; re-installing the app fixed it. I haven't found the bug yet!

Bill said...

Looping: I've reinstalled the app three times, unfortunately it still continuously loops. When I delete the app I then turn off the iPhone and restart it, then I load a new copy of the app.

Let me know if there are any other options to try.

Thanks.

-Bill

Teleportaloo said...

I'm getting worried as I've not been able to repro this! Can you:

1) confirm if switching off auto refresh in the settings fixes it (I think it dies not)
2) the exact steps (e.g. Are you using a bookmark or the location services?).

Bill said...

Hi. I've tried turning off auto-refresh and leaving it on. No difference either way.

I usually go to Locate Stops, then Find nearest rail stations. After the initial 'getting arrivals', the background changes to show the closest station then it continually refreshes.
The looping occurs regardless of which Locate Stops option I pick.

Thanks.
-Bill

Anonymous said...

I can't bookmark anything. No matter how I get there, when I get to the Add Bookmark screen there is no save or done...and when I get back to the home screen there is no bookmark. Argh!

Teleportaloo said...

Hi Anonymous - that is so weird on the bookmark thing. There *is* no *save* or *done* - you just have to go back or hit the home button. I'll keep a look out for that issue.

Anonymous said...

Allright! So I just deleted the app, went back to the app store and downloaded PDX Bus again. Now I have bookmarks...f'yeah!

bart said...

i use this every day. at least twice a day. i pay $.99 for really stupid things all the time. i really don't understand why you're not charging at LEAST that much for something that everyone in portland who uses trimet is probably using. not from the perspective that you should but that if you were paid for your work you'd have the funding to and a reason to create more.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just loaded the latest update and the Apple site notified me I would be charged for the update but then did not display an amount nor allow me to confirm before proceeding with the update...

Teleportaloo said...

Anonymous - I have no control over the app store and how it does the update, but PDX Bus is still free, and you shuld not be charged for it.

Anonymous said...

Noticed that when you ask app to locate stops the location on service arrow next to battery life comes on. If I hit the refresh button or turn phone off the location service stays on and runs my battery down. Only way to stop this is to make sure I hit home on pdxbus before leaving it.

Teleportaloo said...

Hi Anonymous - thanks - didn't notice that until now. I'll look into it this week.

Chris Shaffer said...

Interesting - I wondered what that arrow meant and why it started appearing. I can confirm that hitting the home before exiting PDXBus clears it.

chasland said...

I'd gladly pay (say, $9.99) for an Android version.

chasland said...

I'd gladly pay (say $9.99) for an Android version of PDX Bus.

RICHARD ENGLISH said...

Hi,

Thank you for making your app open source. I am trying to adapt it for our transit system. We will also be using NextBus. This maybe a dumb question, but where is the data stored? I have the PDX Bus project set up and can see where to change some things but I don't see where I change/list all of my routes and stops. I also don't see where to reference my google map kmz files. This is the first time I've tried to create/modify an iPhone app. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Teleportaloo said...

Richard - for development work I don't mind discussing this over email - if you leave your address as a comment we can converse more easily.

To answer you questions:

(1) the data is not stored anywhere - the routes are mostly got on the fly, except for the list of railway stations which uses a static array.
(2) PDX Bus does not use google map kmz files.

Larissa said...

This is a fantastic app! I agree that it is something that I would have easily paid $.99 or $1.99 and now that I use it, I'd say it is worth even more!

One thing that my app has started doing recently: When I use the trip planner the date/time dial is not there and the only real choice I have is to select "Depart after time below" in which case it uses the current time. If I want to know what the schedule is in an hour or two, it won't work anymore. I know it used to work, because I used that feature several times when I first go the app.

Thanks!

carrythebanner said...

Hi,

PDXBus has been very useful to me, first as a tourist and now as a resident. A few observations (apologies for the length, these have accumulated over a number of months):

1. Select "Choose from rail map" then the "Map" link at the bottom center. Choosing "Back" or "Home" on the Google Maps page always crashes the app.

2. The standard TriMet rail map notes the bus connections at each MAX stop (e.g. "66 75 77" at Hollywood/NE 42nd TC). However, when viewing a rail station page, there is no indication of bus connections. Perhaps along with the existing "Arrivals," "Routes," and "More Information" sections, a "Connections" section could be added. If that would make the rail station page too long, it could instead be a link to a subpage.

(Also, a very very minor aside: the "Routes" section includes a colon in its header, but none of the other section headers do.)

3. Lastly, but most important to me personally, would be more offline info and more caching of recently accessed data. I use an iPod Touch and don't have an omnipresent data connection, so a common scenario for me is to check the arrival data somewhere there's wifi (home, coffee shop, library, etc), walk to the bus stop, and after a few minutes waiting, check my iPod -- only to see that the info is no longer there. I understand that the estimate will be stale, and a warning as much would definitely be appropriate, but it would be super great if I could at least see the most recently accessed data.

I recently used MassTransit for Boston's MBTA transit system, and while the realtime tracker portion of the app isn't so hot, it does a great job of providing local copies of schedule data. Often, I arrive at a bus stop that I've never been at to wait for a bus that I've never been on, and there's no info at the stop about even the relative frequency of the bus. Having the realtime arrival info available is obviously great, but it's also very useful to always have the schedule info as a backup.


Thank again for a great app. I'm sure it's not easy to manage an app which gets a daily pounding by so many people.



Regards,
Josh

Teleportaloo said...

Hi Larissa - that is odd behavior you are seeing, but I'm not able to see it myself, so I need more information. What kind of device are you using and what version of the iOS is it running?

thanks!

Teleportaloo said...

Hi Josh, thanks for you comments! Here are my responses.

(1) (Crash from map screen)
I'm not seeing the crash on my iPhone, so my guess is that it is because your iPod touch has less memory. This will be hard to debug - I'll check the crash logs from Apple to see if I can see it.

(2) (bus connections from rail stops)
I didn't want to enter all this data, so that is why each station has a "nearby stops" option, it searches for nearby connections. Is that not sufficient?

(3) This is an interesting idea - the app does cache some data (the route list) but I had not considered doing a temporary cache of arrival data - I'll put this on my list of things to do. The main thing I need to decide is ensuring that the user knows it is stale data.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic App! Thanks for the approaching stop feature! If you're looking for suggestions, a way to sync bookmarks between my phone and iPad would be awesome! Hanks again!

carrythebanner said...

Sorry for the long absence. I checked back a couple of times in the first day or two after posting, but it slipped my mind after that.

(1) (Crash from map screen)
This looks to be fixed in v6.1, thanks!

(2) (bus connections from rail stops)
The "Nearby Stops" option does help, but it only works when there is an active network connection. I understand that entering the bus connections would be a formidable data entry task, but it is relatively static data and so it would only rarely need to be updated.

On a related note, I noticed that the bus "Route Info" pages are only available when there is an active network connection. Contrast this with the MAX "Station Details" pages, which do not require a network connection. Having a local (i.e. not network-dependent) "Route Info" page for each bus route would be helpful.

(3) (temporary cache of arrival data)
The changes in v6.1 are super useful, thank you! I think the "no network" warning is sufficient, though the text is perhaps a tad difficult to read (dark text on a medium gradient).


Thank you much,
Josh

Katie Johnson said...

Hi! I am interested in creating an app in my own community for our busing system. I am not a software designer, I am a student in a Masters of Urban Planning program and I think applications like this are very useful and I am just doing research to make sure I don't step on patented software and to get a feel of how complex this process is (which I know it will be). I am still looking for another student to help write the code. I have some questions on your software.

What type of code do you use?

What was it like working with the busing system?

Do you each of the buses have a GPS system installed in them, if not how do you transmit the data?

Are there certain phones that you can use it on, which one does it work best with?

Any advice on where to get started?

Again, I am not a software student and I may be in over my head, but I thought I could at least try. Any advice or help you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

Teleportaloo said...

Hi Josh - sorry for my late response here - I'm just catching up on the support blog today.

(2) (bus connections from rail stops)
I still don't have have the time to enter all that data for every max stop - I like to enter as little data as possible, and the max map is more than enough to have to maintain!

Teleportaloo said...

Hi Katie Johnson,

I hope this answers your questions!

What type of code do you use?
PDX Bus is written in Objective-C which is a language mostly used by Apple.

What was it like working with the busing system?
TriMet is good as they have provided the data and infrastructure, I just have to do the networking and the app.

Do you each of the buses have a GPS system installed in them, if not how do you transmit the data?
TriMet does all this - they set up the system for their TransitTracker system, I'm just a developer who saw some data was available and used it.

Are there certain phones that you can use it on, which one does it work best with?
It's an iPhone/iPodTouch/iPad app.

Any advice on where to get started?
You really need to be a Software Developer for this...

-j said...

I have an oddity that is where I am located (by Griffen oaks and 25th ave in Hillsboro) the route finder consistently says there are no stops, but if I do a search for stops it finds them. I tried clearing the cache, but it's quite confusing.

Teleportaloo said...

Hi -j - that is a place I actually can look into as I work in Jones Farm... it does seem to work properly for me so I'm confused about what might be going on. I will continue to look into it.

Portland Cyclist said...

SUGGESTION for app: If TriMet's data stream includes information about delays, could you parse that into the arrival times? I've learned that you can sometimes tell when there's some delay when the arrival times go grey scheduled times instead of realtime projections. It'd be great help if PDXBus could insert a line like "Bridge Lift" or "Signals Problem @ Gateway" with estimated resolution times.

Don't know if TriMet gives that kind of info in the data streams you use though...

Teleportaloo said...

To Portland Cyclist - that information is not in the data feed - I do put the detour information in there when TriMet publishes it.

January said...

Hi there. Since I last updated the app, it will not save bookmarks. Any suggestions?

Teleportaloo said...

Hi January - that is not good. I suggest you email the bookmarks to yourself (to save them!) and then delete the app and re-install. Then click on the bookmarks in the email to add them back.

Todd said...

I'm not sure if anyone else is experiencing this issue, but it appears to be happening since the latest update...

I live in Beaverton across from El Monica station (El Monica / SW 170th Ave), and if I try to plan a trip going towards Gresham the app wants me to board the Max towards Hillsboro first and then switch to the blue line to Gresham. Obviously, I can just hit the blue line by my house, so it would be a waste of time.

This happens with multiple destination addresses, and whether I enter my home starting address manually or use the GPS feature. I am able to successfully plan a trip directly on the Trimet site using the same address information. I matched it identically to ensure it wasn't the way I was entering addresses.

Any help would be greatly appreciated !

Thanks,
Todd

Teleportaloo said...

Todd - the actual route is provided by TriMet, not by the app. If you can reproduce this with their online route planner then they can fix it.

Todd F said...

@ Teleportaloo,

That is precisely the problem. Their website provides the correct route, but their other feed (I would assume it's two different feeds) that you pull from, is wrong. :-/

What should I refer to when pointing out the problem? Their mobile feed? Or, is it called something else?

Thanks,
Todd

Teleportaloo said...

I could be any number of things - for example, can you check what the options are on the trip planner - "shortest walk" often gives weird results, or even having a very short walk distance (if you wouldn't mind changing them around to see if it makes a difference, that would help).

Anonymous said...

Even if I set PDX Bus for Rail Only, when I click the compass in the bottom left corner, I still get bus stops too. This means I have to scroll and search for the streetcar stop I'm looking for among all of the many nearby bus stops.

Also, I wish the stop names were larger and easier to read, especially since there are so many to scroll through.

Teleportaloo said...

Dear Anonymous - I was initially confused by your comment. The trip planner has a default option to be rail only, but this is not an overall setting to make PDXBus rail only.

I'm wondering if you were the person "Jalpuna" that wrote the very long (and somewhat colorful) review? :-(

Anyway, I've been working on that locator (currently it fulfills a particular use case and I wish to make it more customizable). The next release will address some of these issues,.

Unknown said...

Great App! I can't believe it's a one man show. Cudos! Perhaps a testament to individual design and not committee design. I was just there for a conference and needed to get to a house on Blandena St. in Overlook, and needed to take the 35 Bus up N. Greeley and get off right at Madrona Park and walk across the park trails to get there efficiently - the app wanted to take me around the park on the surface streets. Not sure if you even have access to park trails for walking routes, but that would be undoubtedly helpful. Just a thought... Keep up the great work and thanks!

Jim said...

I just found this app and am very impressed. One thing, though--is there some kind of manual? I realize things are fairly simple to figure out but I had to search all over the net to learn about the way alarms work.

The hooks for other navigation apps are fantastic! I am a blind user and having highly accurate transit information to combine with a walking route navigator is great.

Thanks for making the effort to write & support this app.

Jim said...

This is a support question. I am a blind user and have been able to get most parts of the app working, but the alarms are giving me some trouble. I have sounds set to on, my device is not muted, and I think I have the correct app settings in place. I use VoiceOver on a 4S. Any help would be greatly appreciated. The parts I can make work are great!

Teleportaloo said...

Hi Jim - gosh, I just don't know about the alarms. Can you give more information about them not working?

There are a couple of things to note:
- iOS does not allow the app to run in the background for more than 10 mins, so if the alarm is for longer than that it will not be accurate.
- The alarm will cause a notification to pop up. Have you checked the notification center to see if PDX Bus is in there and notifications are allowed?

Teleportaloo said...

Jim (again) - concerning the manual - there is no manual and I don't have time to write one. I know some items are a mess. The alarms require the notification center to be set up also...

Mark Henry said...

Just visited portland and this was priceless. Thanks so much!

Shirak said...

Please, please, please make a version of this app for the metro system in LA. I just moved down here from Portland and I miss this app!

Shirak said...

Please, please, please, make a version for LA. I just moved down here from Portland and I miss this app so much.

Teleportaloo said...

Shirak - sorry - there may already be an app for LA - I have no plans to expand it...

John Lambert said...

northbound street cars are not being listed. The are in the nextbus map and in the transit tracker. The stop is 1st and Harrison but I don't see them at any nearby stop either.

Teleportaloo said...

John - something changed in the way Next Bus addresses these stops. I will need to update the app to fix it. Thanks for the info.

Steve Queen said...

I recently started using the vehicle color tagging feature so I can keep track of all the 2100 series buses by assigning yellow to them. I've found that when I see a bus tagged with yellow it could be any bus (e.g., a 2500 series bus). Isn't the the tag supposed to identify the specific vehicle indefinitely, not just for the day or the run? Or is the color associated with the run and which vehicle they assign to that run is irrelevant?

Teleportaloo said...

Steve Queen - sorry the vehicle tagging does not tag a specific physical vehicle, it actually tags something called the "block" which is an ID assigned to a movement in the schedule. So each day the same color will turn up for the same item in the schedule regardless of the type of the bus.

The identifier associated to the physical bus or train, and the type of the vehicle is not in data feed from TriMet. (I have asked for it, as it makes a difference to where I stand on a platform with a bike, for example, if I know what kind of train is coming).

Sorry!

Dan Kojak said...

On my iPod Touch 4th generation (incapable of upgrading past iOS 6.1.6), the app worked fine before the recent update, but after installing the update, it would let me to the main screen, but pushing almost any button would almost immediately blank the screen then drop me back to the iPod's main screen. I only got it to work again by deleting it off my iPod and reloading it from a saved previous version of the app in iTunes.

Teleportaloo said...

Hey Dan, sorry you are having problems. Apple makes it very difficult for me to test on ios6, as there is no simulator, and I do not have a device that is running it (I think). I'll see if I can borrow or find a device to look into it, otherwise I will have to drop ios6 from the supported versions...

Digger O said...

How can I see what version I am running. I am not an iPhone whiz so need specific instructions probably. Also, you mentioned that I should email my bookmarks to myself before updating (as backup) - I can't find how to do that. And also, then how to reload bookmarks back after updating. Thanks much for the info. (This comment might be to you multiple times as I am also new to this signing up multiple steps to just get this comment in.)

Wolfy said...

Hi... I had been having problems with not being able to connect to the Trimet Ticket App via PDX Bus, so I removed the icon from the toolbar. I now want to put it back, but can't figure out how to do so. Can you assist? Thanks.

Teleportaloo said...

Wolfy - that option has now been removed as TriMet removed it from their app, sorry.

Teleportaloo said...

Digger O - sorry for delay. The version is on the End of the about page. To get to the About page scroll to the end of the main screen, it'll say About & Legal.

Also on the main page at the end is the button to Email bookmarks. Once you have emailed them just click on the link in the email to add them back.