by Sylvana El-Khazen
A record number of commuters across NSW are opting to use transport apps to access real-time information. In July, there were more than 120,000 new downloads of the apps, and there are 40 million requests per month for real-time information from them, according to data gathered by Transport for NSW.
As a result, Transport for NSW’s TXTBus SMS system used to access real-time information for buses will cease from the September 17.
A spokesperson from Transport for NSW says, “The number of people accessing information from this service has dropped in recent months and the NSW Government is moving to newer and more reliable technology, like our smart phone apps which are proving to be more popular with the majority of our customers.”
Six transport apps are accessible on smart phones: Arrivo Sydney, NextThere, TransitTimes+, TripGo, Triptastic and Tripview.
For those who do not have smart phones to access these apps, Transport for NSW has maintained the 131500 customer service line.
TXTBus was introduced under former Minister for Transport John Robertson in November 2010, part of the Public Transport Information and Priority System (PTIPS), which tracked buses by satellite. It was initially offered on a six-month trial basis for Metrobuses, however extended to all Sydney buses in March 2011.
One of the most popular and free apps, NextThere, has had more than 30,000 downloads since its introduction in July. This app provides commuters with a list of buses and their expected arrival time, as well as information on bus delays. It also allows commuters to search the bus timetables of up to three bus stops across NSW. Another app, Arrivo Sydney, allows commuters to see the bus traveling on a map to see its progress on the route.
Isabel Georgeton, 67, a frequent commuter from Paddington, welcomes the use of the transport apps instead of the TXTBus SMS system. She finds it more convenient having access to the timetables online, rather than constantly checking for text messages from TXTBus.
Thea Bolt, 23, from Kingsford, also prefers the transport apps. A frequent user of real-time app Tripview, she says that such apps offer more comprehensive information to commuters then TXTBus and also finds they are more cost-effective. There is a one-off fee for a subscription to the transport apps, rather than sending numerous texts to TXTBus.
However, these commuters all commented that even though the apps are more efficient than TXTBus, there still remains a mismatch in the arrival times given on any real-time information service against the actual arrival times of buses.