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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Here comes the NextBus

Last Sunday, I decided to try out the SBSTransit's IRIS NextBus service. Those who don't already know what this NextBus is, it is SBSTransit's online bus information system which provides live tracking of bus arrival times.

The first test for the day was in the morning when my family and I just arrived at the bus stop. I started by logging on to the mobile version of NextBus on my phone. As my phone is over 2 years old, it took some time just to load the browser. I keyed in the URL manually since I had not bookmarked it on my phone prior. Before I even reached the site, mum had flagged down a cab as we were already quite late.

Lesson learnt, Part 1 - if you are late, you won't even bother using NextBus.

Later on in the afternoon after having lunch, we were heading to the temple and columbarium for our Ching Ming visitations. This time there wasn't even an opportunity to use NextBus, our bus came just within minutes of waiting.

Lesson learnt, Part 2 - You don't need NextBus when you can see your bus coming.

After we had completed our visitations, it was time to take a bus to go Cold Storage Jelita for some grocery shopping for dinner. While walking to the bus stop, I proceeded to log on to the NextBus page and then keyed in the bus service number.

Upon reaching the bus stop, I referred to the bus stop number on the bus stop's info board to key into the remaining field on the site. I submitted it and looked at the screen eagerly awaiting the results. The page refreshed and showed that the next bus will arrive in 15 minutes. I then looked up away from my phone and within a stone's throw away my bus was approaching. In usual situations, I think I would have really waited 15 minutes if I missed this bus while text messaging a friend.

Lesson learnt, Part 3 - NextBus works when the situation allows it.

Overall, I find the NextBus is not practical since you will be waiting at the bus stop regardless of how long the bus will take to arrive. It may or may not test one's patience since it will either show how soon or late your bus will come. This is not to say its a totally useless service but it just doesn't work for me.


Kevin Elliott said...

I've been thinking about writing a Windows Mobile 5/6 application that grabs data from NextBus. I have been waiting because I believed someone else would have written one by now, or perhaps an official one would come out.

A smartphone or PocketPC application that lets you save your common start and stop locations would be very helpful. Rather than futzing with full web pages on a mobile browser, you'd be able to map the program to a hardware button on your phone, then just choose the saved setting you want.

Something like this is needed for this service to really be useful. In the future, as more handsets have GPS capabilities, this application can identify possible routes and lines to take.


Roy said...

Don't think, just DO! :) If you can make it yourself, you don't need to worry whether someone else is or will be doing it. When you make it yourself, you can tweak it to your heart's content instead of being bounded or limited by what someone else made.

Anonymous said...

You can refer to http://www.sbstransit.com.sg/iris3/pdanextbus.aspx

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