A while back Lothian Buses fitted some fancy GPS tracking to all of their fleet enabling real-time tracking. Then LCD screens appeared at (selected) bus stops giving you a list of incoming buses and their ETA. All very clever. Then, at last they launched a web site which gave access to the same data: mybustracker.co.uk.
I think that making the website resemble the signs from the street is a poor design choice. Why not work with the medium you are presenting information over (the web) rather than trying to make it resemble something else? They constrain information into a tiny space, put it in a stupid font, make the background looks like all lcd-y, use excessive popups and it takes forever just to get to the basic information.
In shock news, this isn’t just a whiny post with no actual action. I present the beginnings of a “Bus Tracker API”. Think of it as a “cleaning” of the data for a fresh beginning. If we can get clean data out of the system then we can build a clean interface on top of it. My API is REST-ful and inspired by the flickr API. I have one method so far “bustracker.departures.getNext” which takes one parameter: the bus stop code. It shows you all of the incoming departures for a given bus stop. Here it is working for the stop nearest my flat. Feel free to change to bus stop code to another one by digging around the Bus Tracker website. I’ll hopefully have some other, more useful methods done soon and maybe some nifty google maps visuals…
Update: Source code now browsable at: http://code.google.com/p/bustrackr/