MTD commits resources to the development and support of a robust API because we want the community to choose the medium they use to get transit data. MTD spoke about this project and our commitment to open data at Research Park’s Mobile Development Day on January 31, 2013. (Presentation Recording).
But there’s another way users can get bus information on the go: MTD’s mobile website, m.cumtd.com. It recently got a face lift and a body cleanse!
Riders can use the mobile website to look up STOPwatch real-time bus departure information. Today’s upgrade changed how boarding points (which vary depending on direction of travel) are displayed. Without redirecting to a new page, users can filter stop information by boarding point with a drop down menu. Once a corner or street side is selected, the site instantly updates the departure results. It’s pretty slick.
An added feature is the ability to “star” bus stops as favorites. Simply tap the star located to the left of each bus stop name to favorite it and tap it again to un-favorite it. The favorited stops are stored locally on your device, no need to create an account.
If you leave the browser, but you’ve marked a stop as a favorite, not only will the mobile site keep that favorite in local storage but it will also remember how you left that bus stop info page. So, if you were viewing the departures for only the northeast corner of a stop, that is how the data will display when you return. This is really useful for stops like Illinois Terminal and Transit Plaza where there are multiple boarding points and almost all of MTD’s fixed routes serving them.
“From a programming perspective,” said Ryan Blackman, MTD’s Software Developer/Network Administrator, “we re-wrote it from the ground up.”
In the previous version, each time a user put in a new bus stop (brace yourself non-techies) a full post-back was required. The browser would pull down markup, scripts, styles, and images each time a rider requested new information. In other words: the entire page would need a reload.
In the cleansed and updated version, the HTML and images stick when new bus stop info is requested! This is called a Single Page Application (SPA). The only information that gets pulled is the STOPwatch real-time data. Page loading, as a result, is faster. As a bonus, the user’s experience more closely resembles that of a native app while not taking up storage space on their device.
MTD’s main website is not mobile friendly. There, we said it. Optimizing a website for mobile consumption takes time, consideration, and [insert techie phrase here]. But 35 percent of all traffic to our website, cumtd.com, comes from mobile devices.
So while m.cumtd.com does not offer as many features, MTD still wants to provide a good experience for users who don’t want to download an app or who can’t find an app for their particular device. We’re thinking BlackBerry and tablets like Kindle Fire and Nook.
This is where YOU come in! If you’re visiting our website on a mobile device, what pages are you visiting? Are you using bus stop look up? Viewing schedules and route maps? Planning a trip? Looking up riding basics? Learning about our sustainability initiatives? In the future, what features do you think should be incorporated into our mobile website?