Advance Transit Real Time Bus Arrival Smartphone App
Advance Transit (AT) is a non-profit transit company annually serving around 600,000 free rides across the Upper Valley. Though real time estimates for bus arrivals are available through AT’s website and automated call line, there is currently no simple way for AT riders to visualize their bus route and bus arrival times from a smartphone. Over 44% of riders surveyed in October 2015 indicated they would ride the bus more often if they had easier access to real-time bus arrival information. The goal of the project is to develop a system that gives AT riders easy access to their bus arrival times from a smartphone and, in doing so, bring an increase in bus ridership.
To meet this goal, we broke the project down into several distinct phases. The first two months were dedicated to architecture, design, and defining our requirements and deliverables. When we left for winter break, we had used rapid prototyping and trade studies to settle on our final design for the “minimum viable product” – the minimum number of features to satisfy the goal of giving riders easy access to bus arrival times. We spent the entirety of our six-week winter break in our first development cycle; an initial working version of the app was completed by January 17th. We then took an entire week to get rider feedback. Conducting two in-person feedback sessions at Thayer and the Lebanon Library, we gathered both quantitative and qualitative feedback on the app. We then used this feedback to embark on a second development cycle where we added new features and also completely redesigned the UI. All of this led to February 23rd, when both versions of the app were officially launched to the public in coordination with a full-scale marketing push to drive user adoption.
Our two main deliverables to Advance Transit were (1) the working app for iOS/Android, and (2) everything else needed to ensure the app can be actively developed going forward. More specifically, we needed to deliver clean code, high-level documentation of app architecture, and detailed instructions for Advance Transit on how to go about hiring developers for future work.
Once our working app was launched on Feb 23, we conducted tests to ensure that it met our project goals and requirements. Overall, we found that the app met and exceeded all but one of our requirements, the overall speed of the app, which through surveys we missed by two percentage points from our target. We have already released updates on both apps to improve the speed of both apps. So far we have received over 800 downloads between the iOS and Android apps combined and a 4.5/5 star average review between the two apps amongst the 22 public reviews that we have received on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Additionally, we have received an 8.1 out of 10 average rating on the overall satisfaction of the apps from our own surveys that we conducted. Seventy-two percent of end users that we surveyed indicated they would use Advance Transit more as a result of this app.
At this point in time, we have transitioned the app over to Advance Transit. In terms of immediate next steps, AT will move the app into long-term maintenance mode while they explore further options for development. The Dartmouth Planning Office has expressed interest in funding full integration of Dartmouth shuttle information, so this is a likely next step for development. AT has also expressed with near-certainty their interest in continuing development in the fall with another group of 89/90 students. Regardless of how AT decides to move forward, we have equipped them with the tools to continue development however they see fit.