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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

ADVENTURES CLOSE TO HOME: The L.A. Transit Parallax


It's hard to believe but recently Los Angeles was ranked as the 3rd most transit friendly city in the United States.  We've made huge strides here in this sun-soaked metropolis in public transportation in the last two decades and there's more to come.

We now have a subway, several light rail lines, and commuter rail to go along with our vast bus system.  The one thing we don't have (yet) are signs at the stops and most stations telling you when the next ride will be coming like they do in Europe.

There are some transit apps for your smart phone or tablet that can be utilized to various effectiveness.  We're going to put the top three to the test...NEXTRIP, NEXTBUS, and the LADOT App.


NEXTRIP is used by Foothill Transit to predict when the next Foothill Transit bus will arrive at your stop.  It's not too hard to use. You go to the site, www.foothilltransit.org/NEXTRIP ; find the bus line you're waiting for; and use the dial bar at the bottom to dial in your stop. When you press "Done" the next three predicted bus arrivals appear.


My Foothill Transit bus is only a minute late

NEXTRIP uses GPS technology that pairs the bus location to the stop chosen.

PROS: From the three or four tests I've done with it, it's pretty accurate. Bus arrivals were within a minute of what is displayed.

CONS: There's no reload button. You have to start at the beginning to recalculate or choose another bus stop.  It only displays Foothill Transit buses when there might be a number of buses using the same stop from other transit agencies.


NEXTBUS is an independent arrival app technology. It's at nextbus.com . Nextbus uses the GPS location of your phone to predict when the next bus, or train, will arrive. It has the advantage of redirecting you to another stop or station nearby if that is a better choice.

PROS: Nextbus will give you a menu of several providers that come by your area, you're not limited to one.  It uses the GPS location of your smart device, thus enabling it to display numerous stops or stations in your area which you can use to determine the most efficient bus line or train to take to your destination, not necessarily the one that will stop at the stop you're standing at.

CONS: Is supposed to be accurate to 2000 meters...that's two kilometers...and prediction times are not as accurate as the other two apps listed here.


LADOT App is provided by the L.A. Department of Transportation and provides arrival predictions of its buses, most notably the DASH buses used downtown. It has the added feature of having a live map showing you icons of exactly where the buses are at any given moment. Get it at ladotbus.com.

PROS: The maps are very accurate and the bus icons shown on them are a perfect way to see exactly where that bus is.

CONS: Only works with LADOT buses. Sometimes the GPS units in the buses are not working so those buses do not show up on the map.

While I think the LADOT app works the best, the Foothill app is also pretty accurate, while the NEXTBUS app is not quite as accurate but covers more transit providers.

Next time you're waiting for the bus in L.A., be sure to have each of these bookmarked so you know when your ride will be there.

Darryl
Copyright 2015-Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

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