Friday, September 27, 2013

Where are the Buses?

Wonder why it looks like Metro is only running 30 buses at rush hour? Here's the reason.

From Mike:
Metro provides an interface for developers for us to get data about the system: bus schedules, bus predictions, bus locations, train information signs, etc.

Every once in a while, some of the data goes stale, and we need to prod WMATA to reset something on their side so the data goes correct again.

Starting over a month ago, the bus position data that Metro provides us to see where all the buses are on the roads started to become less and less.  900 buses became 800, became 700, became 600, and now we’re down to approximately 30 buses at rush hour, or at least that’s what we’re being told by the system.

Obviously, more buses are out on the road, or this wouldn’t be the first time you’re hearing about it, but due to an “upgrade” on the bus position system, we have lost access to 97 percent of the buses out on the streets, and app developers have no way to show you on your smartphone, tablet, or web browser where the buses are.

Ironically, Metro contracts with NextBus to get this data, and the NextBus site still appears to show correct location data for almost all the buses in the system.

Third party developers are forbidden by WMATA from accessing the NextBus data because WMATA wants everyone to go through its own API, unlike many other transit systems which allow NextBus to publish the data for them.
So if you have any apps on your smartphone that are supposed to show where the buses are but isn't, it's not the developers' fault. WMATA just isn’t providing the data.

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