This works, but is horribly inefficient. You have to call, use the prompts, and only get two routes. Often 10 routes or more can stop at a single stop, necessitating up to 5 calls. You also have to be standing at the stop to call. That defeats the purpose. I, and at least a few other programmers in the city have been asking for access to GoTime for years. Literally years. Every time is a different reason, and a different excuse. I’ve been told it’s impossible, it’s impractical, it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars, given provably incorrect reasons, and essentially lied to. The answer is always no.
“Impossible?”About a month ago, I was made aware of a page on Halifax.ca with a public GoTime search. You put the number in, it displays the buses. That was surprising, considering it was “impossible” just a couple of months beforehand. Since the city was running a competition for Apps4Halifax. I quickly created and submitted an app that used the users GPS, found the nearest bus stop, and redirected the user to the gotime listing. Simple, yet invaluable to an end user.
What does the city do? Pulls down the GoTime page, then sends me an email telling me my app was disqualified since it didn’t work. I ended up changing it to auto-dialing the nearest GoTime sign, which isn’t nearly as useful and having them put it back into the competition. When I contacted various departments and people looking for an explanation, I was told
“That page was readily available on Halfiax.ca website’s Transit Section”
“the application was not offered to the public due to a number of technical and operational issues;”
Both of those answers can not be true. The second employee then turned around and said “The current Vehicle Locator data sets on which GoTime is based are not released to the public due to privacy concerns”
GoTime is not released due to PRIVACY CONCERNS? Upon further pressing, a couple of city councillors informed that Operator info was tied to the gotime schedules.
Apart from the obvious, the live schedules in major transit terminals show GoTime data, and no operator info. Funny how that works. The city has the capability to provide web access to GoTime, does internally, but will not release it to the public at large. At first I assumed incompetence. After the takedown, I’m convinced it’s malicious.
A few councillors cc’ed Eddie Robar, the director of Metro Transit for comment. His response?
I apologize if you expected a response from me. This inquire is being handled through HRM’s ICT division and my understanding is they have replied to your inquire.
I did not receive a response from ICT other than those which prompted that email to begin with. Two further emails and Robar still has not responded. I’ve noticed this is a standard practice with HRM, ignore people until they give up.
All I want to do is make transit easier to use. The city has nothing to lose, and a lot to gain by just cooperating with people. Apps4Halifax was a great start, but all I see is talk, and no action.