Contribute > apps > PDX Bus


PDX Bus is a iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad application that displays arrival times for public transport in Portland, Oregon.

This little application uses the Internet to quickly access TriMet's live tracking data to display arrival times perfectly formatted for the iPhone. It allows you to bookmark frequently used stops, displays recently accessed stops, and gives details for arrivals which are en-route.

You can enter the stop "id" of the stop (as displayed at each stop or station) or you can browse the routes for the stop.

Feature includes:

  • Interactive rail map, showing the MAX and WES stops.
  • Embedded Google maps, showing locations of stops, and when available, the last known position of the bus or train.
  • Use GPS to locate nearby stops or rail stations.
  • Browse routes and stops, show an entire route on the map.
  • Links to TriMet route information.
  • Displays Rider Alerts, and Detours.
  • A "Nighttime visibility flasher" - a flashing screen that can be used at night so that drivers can see you. TriMet suggests holding up a cell phone to make yourself visible to bus drivers.
  • Trip Planning - now you can use the same trip planning feature that is available on TriMet's web site.
  • Specially formatted text to work with the iPhone 3GS VoiceOver accessibility feature to speak arrivals.

Route and arrival data provided by permission of TriMet.

Note: this free application was developed as a volunteer effort to provide a service for TriMet riders, the developer has no affiliation with TriMet, AT&T or Apple. Suggestions and feedback are welcome.

Targeted demographic (who app is intended for):
  — PDX Bus is for TriMet users (bus, streetcar, MAX and WES) who also have access to an iPhone or iPad.

Specific need that is addressed by app:
  — PDX Bus is designed to give anyone with an iPhone or iPad a quick way to check TriMet arrivals in real time – and not just as scheduled – in many different situations such as…

    ...for any specific stop when the stop ID number is known;
    ...for a frequently used stop that has been bookmarked;
    ...for a recently viewed stop; or
    ...for the user’s closest stop based on GPS data.

  — PDX Bus also provides trip planning information for iPhone and iPad users who can enter information using their bookmarks, selecting from their iPhone address book, manually typing in the address or their current location.   — PDX Bus also displays rider alerts, detours and links to TriMet's route maps.

Anticipated usage (by whom, under what circumstances, etc):
  — PDX Bus is a free download for any TriMet rider who has access to an iPhone or iPad.
  — Recent TriMet statistics reveal that TriMet already gets more that 100,000 hits a day via PDX Bus.

Who and what will be impacted by the app:
  — In terms of direct impact, TriMet riders are able to plan their trips more effectively by knowing when their bus or train will arrive, saving time and trouble on a daily basis.
  — In terms of indirect impact, PDX Bus is intended to encourage public transit usage for environmental reasons, and anecdotal evidence suggests such has been the case.

How information is presented, that's not presented elsewhere; how it is unique:
  — PDX Bus has a touch-sensitive MAX/WES map enabling users to touch a station to see a list of upcoming arrivals.
  — PDX Bus uses the GPS to locate the rider's closest stops.
  — PDX Bus uses the iPhone's built-in Google maps to display stops as well as the current positions of any busses, trains or trams.
  — PDX Bus allows the user to track sequences of busses, trains or trams at any particular stop; conversely, it can track a sequence of stops for any particular bus, train or tram.
  — PDX Bus shows arrivals for several different stops on one screen. (If users are near more than one bus stop, they may want to choose their stop depending upon the arrival times of different bus lines.)
  — PDX Bus is designed for broad accessibility such as taking advantage of the iPhone's "Voice Over" capability to assist sight-impaired travelers.

Strengths of the design:
  — PDX Bus follows iPhone UI design guidelines, and so it has an easy and familiar look and feel.
  — PDX Bus integrates many iPhone features such as Google maps, the address book, email, GPS, Voice Over and even the “accelerometer” (meaning that, if you shake it, it reloads).
  — PDX gets the minimum data required for each transaction – e.g. street car locations and trip routes are only fetched as required – thereby limiting the necessary bandwidth.
  — Users can give feedback via twitter and blog comments, and the application is frequently updated following user feedback. For example, a sight-impaired user asked for interface improvements to utilize the "Voice Over" feature, and other users asked for multiple stops to appear on a single page, for trip planning and for a larger keypad. PDX Bus was duly modified each time.
  — PDX Bus is generally adaptable for the user’s own preferences. For example, it allows the user to choose what information is first displayed when the app starts; it allows the user to choose how many recent stops are to be displayed; and it allows the user to select default options for the trip planner.
  — PDX Bus even has a "flashing light" feature to ensure that travelers are visible to bus operators at night.

GNU General Public License (GPL)
andy :: March 21, 2010 - 2:34pm

Indispensable; easily the best app on here so far.

pdxbus :: March 21, 2010 - 8:07pm

PDX Bus may not be eligible for this competition - it isn't open source. :-(

TheCat :: March 21, 2010 - 9:14pm

Why not make it open source?

pdxbus :: March 22, 2010 - 8:22am

I will release the source for the competition; the graphics and maps cannot be open sourced, but I can give instructions on how to get them.

Michael Andersen :: March 24, 2010 - 11:55am

I love love love this app. It has revolutionized my ability to use transit and could dramatically increase the appeal of public transportation if widely adopted. It's the single most useful thing about my $200 iPhone.

akmathur :: May 5, 2010 - 9:20pm

To promote adoption of other Apps, this popular App should suggest the users to use other Apps, such as "Citizen Reports".

rnixon :: May 6, 2010 - 8:45am

Actually, to promote the _creation_ of other Apps, my hope is this popular App is licensed and made available as open source.

pdxbus :: May 28, 2010 - 1:46pm

Sources are now available!

annie :: May 27, 2010 - 4:27am

What is the pdx bus all about what are the traveling requirements.

pdxbus :: May 28, 2010 - 1:47pm

annie - PDX Bus is an iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad app to display TriMet arrival times. (I have updated the text above to make it clearer).

imonnine :: July 20, 2010 - 6:35pm

Fanstastic information i gained from this website about PDX Bus. I wish that i also would have one. Thanks a lot for the sharing.

gkatewilliams :: August 19, 2010 - 6:14am

Its really a cool app for me bcoz i lived in portland