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TriMet Transit Tracker

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TriMet Transit Tracker is an online service that uses a combination of on-board GPS and route schedules to predict when the next few buses and trains will arrive at a given stop.

The Transit Tracker uses the same information as various TriMet apps, but unlike the TriMet trip planner, which is based only on official schedules, it estimates when buses will actually arrive based on their current location.

To use the Transit Tracker by telephone or text message, you must send in your stop's stop ID. Once you know it, dial 503-238-7433 and press 1, or just text the ID to 27299. (For some Cricket customers, the number is different.)

Contents

[edit] How to find a stop ID

Stop IDs are typically posted above the map or timetable at each bus stop. Some TriMet bus stops do not post their stop IDs.

At MAX stops, the stop ID is typically above the timetable at one end of the platform. Each direction has its own stop ID.

For photos of typical bus stop ID locations, go to TriMet's transit tracker website and click "what's my stop ID?"

[edit] 2-D barcodes

labanex-qr
An example of a QR code (this one links to the creator's site, http://labanex.mobi/).

In December 2011, TriMet marketing director Drew Blevins said the agency is planning to add scannable 2-D barcodes, known as QR codes, to every stop with a posted ID. Once one of the codes is scanned by a smartphone (using a barcode scanner app such as, for example, i-nigma) it takes the user directly to a website with the next few arrival times.

Blevins said he hoped to have all codes in place by fall 2012. They would not be added to stops that do not yet post their IDs, but as TriMet continues to upgrade its bus stop poles the codes would be included on the new signage. As of December, the agency had begun testing the codes on some stops of the 33 bus.

The story was first reported by Byron Beck during an interview with Drew Blevins at PSU's Digital Marketing Conference.

[edit] Using Transit Tracker by telephone

To hear the next arrival times at any stop, call 503-238-7433, press 1, then enter the stop ID. An automated voice will tell you when the next two buses or trains are expected.

As of August 2010, TriMet's Transit Tracker line receives about 1.6 million calls per month.

[edit] Using Transit Tracker by text message

To get a text message of the next arrival times at any stop, text the stop ID to 27299. An automated service will reply with the next two buses or trains are expected, along with an ad from a local merchant.

Standard text messaging charges apply.

[edit] Special number for Cricket customers

The normal 27299 number does not work for Cricket phone customers who pay for unlimited text messaging. Instead, these Cricket users should send stop IDs to 503-388-5034 instead.

Larry Lee of Mobile Marketing LLC, the service provider, said this is necessary because Cricket's lowest-cost texting plan does not support "shortcode" text messaging.

[edit] Rapid growth of service

TriMet transit tracker texting trends
Texts to TriMet's transit tracker grew at an average rate of 122% a month from November 2010 to April 2011.

Use of the transit tracker's text service grew rapidly over its first eight months, averaging 122% monthly growth from November 2010 to April 2011, according to figures from the service provider, Mobile Marketing.

[edit] Downtime issues

The text service went down from time to time in early 2011. Larry Lee of Mobile Marketing, the service provider, said in an April interview that the worst outage came in early March, when for "at most a couple of days" no messages were going out. Lee attributed this to throttling of the service when other, larger companies were using the same "pipe." As of April, he said the problem had been solved.

"Now we don't have that issue at all, no matter how many people we send messages to," Lee said.

If the service is not functioning, Lee said anyone can also text their stop ID to 503-388-5034. However, since use of this number costs Mobile Marketing much more than a text to 27299, Lee urged riders to use the short code whenever possible.

[edit] Possible expansion to other cities

This ad-supported service was introduced by TriMet in August 2010 for a 12-month trial period. It was provided by Mobile Marketing LLC, a private Beaverton-based company hoping to expand the service to other transit agencies. TriMet receives an undisclosed cut of the revenue. Mobile Marketing executive Larry Lee estimated that revenue from the text ads would reach $20,000 a month by the end of 2011.

[edit] External links


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