Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design

4/01/2011

Test run: Metro LA's Nextrip

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

I went on an adventure on the Metro today. Frankly, every ride on the Metro feels that way, but this one was extra special. I took time to test out Nextrip, a new program LA is incorporating into its system (San Francisco already has it in their system). According to The Source, the Metro is working with Google and Bing on the project too.


Basically, at its core, Nextrip is what I've always dreamed of when taking public transportation--some way to tell me when the next bus is coming. In Los Angeles, buses are a bit of a hit and miss. Sometimes, they're late; sometimes, they're early. That leaves a lot of room for anxiety. Nextrip looks to answer that problem by sending you updates (refreshed every few minutes) on where your long-awaited bus is using the GPS strapped onto it.

It's a great idea, but it still has some kinks to work out. I used the text/SMS version, so forgive me old-schoolness. Here are my pros and cons:

Biggest pro:

I got quick and timely updates on my phone. I send my SMS and, a few seconds later, I have my answer. Really, that's all I need.

Cons/Little kinks:

Before I know when the next bus is coming, I have to know what the Stop ID is. The only way I can do that is by researching online before I take my trip via Google Maps. Bummer. That leaves little room for spontaneity. I hope the Metro finds the means to add Stop IDs physically on the bus shelters and stops (which is how Pittsburgh did it).

Confusing communication. Nextrip was good for the most part, except when it came to tiered SMS requests. So, when you arrive at a stop where multiple routes go through, Nextrip will ask you which route you want updates on, which means another round of texting. The confusion lies in its second prompt message:

It read, "Reply with the # on left to select route." Below it, it listed the routes like so:

1) 16
2) 18
3) 62
4) 460

As a user, I was confused! Did it want me to reply with "2) 18"? Or "# 18"? Or "#2"? I thought that it wanted me to put a hashtag on the left before the route number in my response. Turns out, it just wanted me to reply with 2 to 41411. Now, that's not intuitive it all. Nevertheless, forewarned is for-armed. The next time, I'm faced with the same prompt, I'll know better.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the speed, but still wanting in ease of use. Haven't tried it yet? Log on here for a quick overview. Below is a helpful video by The Source's Sirinya Tritipeskul. Here's KCET's take on the same.


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