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TriMet app reviews

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TriMet app user
An iPhone owner uses a trip planning app in downtown Portland

TriMet app reviews are Portland Afoot's ratings for mobile-phone applications that help you get around on bus, train and streetcar in Portland. Most apps are available thanks to TriMet's innovative open-data policy. All TriMet-approved apps are also listed on the agency's website.

You don't have to have a smartphone, such as an iPhone or Droid, to use TriMet apps, because some work on the Web or even with text messages.

This page identifies and rates five separate categories of TriMet apps:

  1. Trip planners, which tell you which vehicles to board at what times to reach a given location.
  2. Rail-only trip planners, which do the same thing but ignore buses.
  3. Location and arrival apps, which figure out where you are, then find the next few departures at nearby stops.
  4. Simple arrival apps, which find the next few departures at one or more stops but can't detect your location.
  5. Niche apps, which do various other transit-related jobs.

This page was created in January 2011 as a project of Alexis Grant, a Portland-based active transportation advocate. Anyone is welcome to improve its content, flesh out the reviews or propose changes to an app's rating. Unless noted, images on this page are property of TriMet, used with permission.

If you don't want to get into the nitty-gritty below, here's our one-page PDF guide to the four best TriMet apps for Android and iPhone.

Contents

[edit] Trip planning apps

For trip planning apps, we tested performance on three sample trips:

  • An immediate midday trip from "amtrak" to "kenton"
  • An immediate midday trip from "10th and couch" to "omsi"
  • A trip the following day from "6637 SE Milwaukie" to "2134" (the TriMet stop ID at eastbound NE Glisan and 67th)
  • Interpretation: Did it successfully figure out which locations we were talking about?
  • Accuracy: Did its location and schedule data seem accurate?
  • Flexibility: Was it easy to adjust the trip's startpoint and endpoint, and its departure and arrival times?
  • Usability: How easy was it to use and navigate the app?
  • Features: What extra features does the app offer?
  • Value: How good is the service for the cost?

Each program received 0 to 4 points in each area, for a maximum of 28 points. The scores:

[edit] Any phone with text messages

[edit] Dadnab

dadnab
Dadnab

Dadnab is an SMS-based trip planner with interfaces for multiple agencies, including TriMet.

  • Interpretation: 4/4. All locations were identified successfully.
  • Stability: 4/4. No issues.
  • Accuracy: 4/4. The text messages described the locations fully and gave Stop ID numbers where not provided.
  • Flexibility: 2/4. It’s easy to enter new trips but each one requires an additional text message to plan. The message format allows for landmarks, addresses, and Stop IDs and treats each appropriately.
  • Usability: 3/4. Ample help is available on the website and a simple reminder by texting ‘help’. You have to know the website or the phone number for your location before you can plan. Responses usually require two text messages, which sometimes arrive out of order and can be challenging to interpret due to terseness.
  • Features: 3/4. You can use Dadnab on the web as well as by text (and it works pretty well on my smartphone browser). The service can notify your Twitter friends of your arrival time, but it requires your password to be sent in the clear. Cute idea, but not too secure.
  • Value: 4/4. Great value for such a simple interface.

Bottom line: 25/28. While this might not be a smartphone user’s first choice, it’s a great backup and an ideal interface for anyone using a low-tech phone. Store the number in your contacts and use it when you need something quick and simple.

[edit] All smartphones

[edit] Trimet Mobile

This is Trimet’s own mobile trip planning offering using their mobile web site. It works on smartphone browsers and provides trip planning, arrival tracking, and other Trimet functions such as service alerts, stop-finding, and maps. The current version does not offer GPS localization, so that feature is omitted in the rating.

  • Stability: 4/4. No issues. Loads quickly and works well.
  • Interpretation: 2/4. For landmarks, requires the user to select from offered locations rather than giving the correct option immediately. Street addresses, intersections, and Stop IDs are almost always understood.
  • Accuracy: 4/4. Trips are accurate and clearly and succintly described. Service alerts are included along with trip information.
  • Flexibility: 3/4. Editing a trip requires a click and reload, but nicely preserves whatever extra information has been added in selecting locations. Unfortunately, no button is provided to plan a new trip or clear trip information. The 1/10 mile max walk option is nice, as is the “tab” arrangement of multiple trip options.
  • Usability: 3/4. Simple but functional.
  • Features: 2/4. You can get walking directions and check for trips with shorter waiting times as on the full site. Routes link to their route maps and stops to their stop information pages (which list stop location and amenities, but other than that there are no extras, and route and stop maps are minimally reformatted for the smaller screens this site is intended for.
  • Value: 4/4. It’s free and gives you what you need.

Bottom line: 24/28. A reliable backup option for smartphone users, though the absence of a GPS feature is a downside. You get more TriMet-specific info, and it’s free.

[edit] HopStop

HopStop is a national trip-planner available for iPhone, iPad, and mobile web. This review is of the mobile web version.

  • Stability: 4/4. No issues using the website in Chrome for Android.
  • Interpretation: 2/4. It was able to understand some locations, but often required selecting from a list, and was hilariously off for the TriMet stop ID (directing me to Boston), as national apps tend to be.
  • Accuracy: 4/4. When locations are found accurately, trip information is correct, and walking directions are provided, which is a nice touch, but the information isn't presented very well.
  • Flexibility: 0/4. Editing a trip requires you to start over.
  • Usability: 2/4. Basically straightforward, but requires you to first find and select Portland, and then doesn't offer much flexibility. Information is presented accurately, but not in a clean way.
  • Features: 1/4. Schedule information is available, and trip options can be selected, but not much else.
  • Value: 2/4. It’s free, but you don't get a lot.

Bottom line: 14/28. Accurate but inflexible and not very attractive, although the walking maps are a unique and nice touch.

[edit] Android

[edit] Google Maps (Android)

Google Maps is a trip planning app used on both Android and iPhone platforms. This review applies to the Android app.

  • price: free
  • downloads as of November 2013: >500,000,000
  • version tested: 7.1.0
  • Stability: 4/4.
  • Interpretation: 3/4. Google Maps can’t do Stop IDs; it also popped up inquiries as to what locations I meant rather than just planning the trip, although the suggested locations were mostly accurate (Kenton was a bit off, and it defaulted to NE 10th and Couch rather than prompting). Suggestions while typing mean that many ambiguities can be resolved before you hit “Plan Trip”.
  • Accuracy: 4/4. Provides detailed step by step directions and can easily show how trips look on the map.
  • Flexibility: 4/4. It’s easy if a little tedious to adjust the locations, and adjusting time and date is now straightforward, although each has to be adjusted separately.
  • Usability: 3/4. Directions are clear and it’s easy to switch from map view to list view. List view has lots of useful information, but that also means it requires scrolling even for simple trips.
  • Features: 4/4. Google Maps offers the ability to check out anything else you need on the map, as well as comparing transit trip time and cost with driving, walking and bicycling -- a great feature if you’re trying to choose your mode.
  • Value: 4/4. Highly effective trip planner with the benefit of all of Google Maps’ other features -- for free.

Bottom line: 25/28. Highly effective trip planner with the benefit of all of Google Maps’ other features -- for free.

[edit] Portland Transit (Android)

portlandtransit-android
Portland Transit

Portland Transit is a trip planning app for Android.

  • Stability: 4/4. No issues.
  • Interpretation: 3/4. Missed “Kenton” (and persisted in informing me that one of its own suggested alternatives was unknown) but understood the other two trips. Street addresses, intersections, and Stop IDs are almost always understood but other locations vary.
  • Accuracy: 3/4. Trips are accurate but sometimes hard to understand. On multi-leg trips, the only number mentioned is for the first bus, and MAX lines are referred to by line number in the main screen. Further buses are referred to by their titles.
  • Speed: 3/4. GPS works pretty reliably now, but can hang for a long time when it’s having difficulty pinpointing you. The ability to use a displayed location for the “nearby” feature is useful. Radius for the nearby feature seems to be smaller than other apps, making it less useful.
  • Flexibility: 4/4. Maximum walk distance can be adjusted between 1/32 of a mile and 1 mile; it would be nice to trade off less granularity for a longer-distance option. Stops and times are easy enough to edit.
  • Usability: 3/4. Main screen is simple but full-featured and the interface is responsive. Remembering previously-entered locations saves a lot of typing. Once planned, trips cannot be viewed on maps, a problem when you’re not familiar with the area, though you can access stop location on the map through the route-selection page, and even see yourself approaching via GPS during trips (the stop is shown along with current distance to it). Occasionally, the route list contains out-of-date information about routing, such as preserving a detour after the detour has ended, but this doesn't affect the accuracy of trip planning and arrivals information. Favorites for trips and stops can be renamed but are always listed in alphabetical order.
  • Features: 3/4. Push-to-call TriMet (503-238-7433). Pulls current service alerts from TriMet. Flashing strobe light. Calculates distance from current location to a selected stop. The ability to save trips is relatively unique and useful despite some limitations, and being able to add shortcuts to certain stops to the home screen saves a lot of clicks. Clickable rail map would be nicer if the clickable areas were more carefully chosen, especially outside downtown. It only tells you how long you need to ride, requiring more effort to calculate layover time. Like all existing apps, this one still struggles to help you change travel plans while riding.
  • Value: 3/4. The price has always been on the high side, and has increased since we first reviewed Portland Transit without a corresponding increase in features. If you use it every day, it's totally worth it, but if you're just an occasional user, you might want to see if another app could meet your needs.

Bottom line: 22/28. Portland Transit is the best trip planner for Android (and one of our daily-use applications), but doesn’t measure up to the best overall. Arrival data is solid and the interface is usable, but there are missing details that detract from the experience.

[edit] TransitTimes+ (Android)

TransitTimes+ is a multi-agency trip planner with an unusual feature set. It offers offline timetables and the ability to track vehicle location and show trips on the map.

  • price: $3.99
  • downloads as of November 2013: 5,000-10,000
  • version tested: 8.2
  • Stability: 4/4. The app did fine in our test.
  • Interpretation: 2/4. Because TransitTimes isn't specific to Portland, you have to enter the city every time, and it can't do Trimet Stop IDs. Its idea of Kenton was a bit off (although it still gave a good trip result), and it won't prompt you if you forget your quadrant.
  • Accuracy: 4/4. Route, stop, and schedule data was a accurate.
  • Flexibility: 3/4. When planning a trip or after planning it, you can now select time and date.
  • Usability: 2/4. TransitTimes is relatively cleanly designed and the trip layouts are excellent, with the arrivals also looking clean. However, the app, although it has changed, continues to have its own idea about how to organize and navigate data, which can be confusing. You have to download the schedule database to get realtime arrivals, and the functionality is somewhat buried, as is the "live tracker" feature that seems to replace the realtime trip planner display. Most oddly, routes are grouped by the first character of their name when searching for stops by route, and stops are grouped together in confusing ways.
  • Features: 3/4. The app has a lot of neat features, including showing trips on the map (which is one I'd really like to see more often), offline schedule information, and a visual vehicle tracker, but it's still confusing to understand and use, and doesn't allow using Stop ID as a location identifier.
  • Value: 2/4. At $3.99, TransitTimes+ isn't cheap, and its free cousin has severe limits on usage (1 planned trip per hour and 1 favorite stop and trip) that make it clear that it's mostly a teaser for the paid version. But the price may be worth it if you're looking for a cleanly designed multi-agency app with good offline data and reasonable planning, and have less need for arrival predictions.

Bottom line: 20/28. Nice design and interesting feature set, but it's lacking in design quality, as well as some agency-specific features such as access by Stop ID, that would make it a real star. A decent choice for people who need a multi-agency app and are more focused on trip planning than arrivals.

[edit] Smiling Ride TriMet (Android)

Smiling Ride Trimet is a trip planner app with an unusual restriction: it can only plan trips from stops and stations.

  • price: free
  • downloads as of November 2013: 1000+
  • version tested: 1.15
  • Stability: 4/4. Worked fine during testing.
  • Interpretation: 0/4. Since only stops and stations are allowed, the app can't interpret other locations. Finding stops is much easier now with the offered autocomplete, but it's still a significant limitation to require stops as start and end points.
  • Accuracy: 3/4. Stop and schedule data is up to date, and the routing usually makes sense. Location was found accurately.
  • Flexibility: 2/4. There's no way to easily adjust options for the trip from the results; you have to return to the original screen.
  • Usability: 2/4. Not too bad, but there are a confusing number of different ways to add favorites, trip information is poorly presented (including frequently confusing data on the number of "legs") and recent trips include time data, which probably isn't useful. Even if you are already looking for next arrivals, and select a stop, you have to confirm the choice in the awkward-size popup (it only includes 2.5 of the 3 options). And you have to accept a license agreement before you even start using it.
  • Features: 2/4. There are a few decent additional features, such as TriMet service alerts and recent trip memory, but not as many as the profusion of buttons suggests.
  • Value: 2/4. Free and functional, but unnecessarily cluttered and confusing.

Bottom line: 15/28. With its lack of flexibility and confusing presentation, it's probably not a first choice, but it's not the worst we've seen.

[edit] The Transit App

The Transit App is a free trip planning app for Android or iPhone.

  • price: free
  • downloads: 100,000-500,000
  • version tested: 1.1.4
  • date tested: November 10, 2013
  • website: TheTransitApp.com
  • Stability: 4/4.: The app started up smoothly and didn't give us any trouble, except when attempting to find certain locations.
  • Interpretation: 2/4.: The app had trouble with Amtrak and Kenton, and considered "2134" to be outside its covered location. Smaller issue: the app failed to ask whether we meant NW or NE 10th Avenue.
  • Accuracy: 4/4.: Like the best apps, this one draws on both real-time and scheduled arrival data, using the first one if available and helpfully marking real-time arrival numbers with a radio wave icon. We were especially impressed by the accurately color-coded MAX lines, although the blue line is a bit similar to the bus line colors.
  • Flexibility: 2/4.: Start and finish locations can be edited separately, but the app tends to reset your start location to the current location or try to plan your trip as soon as you change a single location, and moving back from the results screen to the editing screen isn't very intuitive. The time is only accessible as an additional dropdown. The ease of flipping between different trip options -- a single tap on the necessary departure time -- is excellent. The inability to adjust maximum walking distance, however, is a problem.
  • Usability: 3/4.: This app offers a lot of useful information with very few clicks, but uses confusing interface conventions that take getting used to. The "search" button, which is important in trip planning, seems inappropriately sidelined, and the choice of "itinerary" to indicate route direction is baffling, even if the ability to quickly see your current location and the stop on the screen is very helpful. Map-oriented display of trips with a supplemental list description is very nice. Tap and hold on upcoming arrival time shows future arrivals.
  • Features: 3/4.: The lack of bookmarks is a major shortcoming, though the app's arrival service does store "recent locations." Support for numerical stop IDs would also be great, though the lack isn't surprising for an app developed in Montreal. It's also not possible to customize walking distance. These limitations aside, the app has excellent priorities and packs an impressive number of features (including Streetcar information and a full schedule listing for every line) into a great graphical interface.
  • Value: 4/4.: Free and quite useful, especially for seeing nearby departures on many stops at a glance.
  • Bottom line: 22/28. By far the best national trip-planning app we tested. Even if you don't want this for Portland, get it for your trips elsewhere.

[edit] TransitGuru Portland TriMet

transitguru
TransitGuru

This is the rail-only version of the app for Android, which is the only version available.

  • price: $1.99
  • version tested: 1.0
  • downloads as of November 2013: 100-500
  • Stability: 1/4. Crashed a couple times during testing.
  • Interpretation: 0/4. No ability to accept text input.
  • Accuracy: 1/4. Finds the nearest stations but doesn't report its own location, so it's hard to tell when it's being accurate. Arrival times are scheduled, not real-time.
  • Flexibility: 1/4. Can only enter MAX stations as destinations. Can change one station at a time, but changing the date seems impossible (except within the arrivals component) and the time unintuitive.
  • Usability: 1/4. The interface is inconsistent and unattractive. Trip presentation shows apparently meaningless maps, icons are nonstandard and squished or overlapping, and prompts include typos. The basic features are there but be prepared to wade through the cruft to find them.
  • Features: 3/4. Can show trip details, including time between stops, but who cares? Offers "Yelp integration", which in a brief test found locations nowhere near the specified station. Can bookmark favorite routes or stops. Having data for the vintage trolley is nice, but showing both streetcar lines without indicating which is which is pretty useless.
  • Value: 1/4. Expensive, limited, and terrible.

Bottom line: 8/28. The functionality is so limited, the data presentation so confusing, and the interface so awful, it's really not worth bothering, especially when it costs you money!

[edit] iPhone

[edit] PDX Bus

pdxbus
PDX Bus

PDX Bus is Portland's most popular and powerful specialized trip planning app for iPhone. It's a little hard to get used to.

  • Stability: 4/4. No issues.
  • Interpretation: 4/4. The ambiguous "10th and Glisan" prompted a choice between NE and NW; "Kenton" prompted a choice of several appropriate landmarks.
  • Accuracy: 4/4. Trips are exhaustively detailed, including arrival and departure times for every transit leg, plus estimated travel times for walking between legs.
  • Flexibility: 4/4. Four options for maximum walk distance, from 1/2 mile to 2 miles. A shorter maximum walk would be useful to older users; the long maximum walk, however, is a very valuable feature.
  • Usability: 2/4. PDXBus's greatest strength is its biggest weakness: the sheer number of features overwhelms the interface. Jumping between the "arrival and location" function and the "trip planning" function has never quite seemed intuitive to us.
  • Features: 4/4. Works with Streetcar as well as TriMet. Bookmark trips and stops. Rearrange your bookmarks. Save multiple stops in the same bookmark to display several nearby departure options, like an arrival display app. Save recent trips for offline access. Display trips on a map, and click on each stop to see departures, helping with on-the-fly trip changes. Send your trip by text message. E-mail bookmarked stops to friends. Add future trips to your phone's calendar with a click. Push-to-call TriMet. Scan TriMet QR codes. Flashing strobe light. Clickable rail map. Links to TriMet's Twitter feed. Best of all, PDX Bus remains in active development, with updates noted on the developer's frequently updated blog. Like all local apps, though, PDX Bus still struggles to tell you where to get off when you need to change your destination mid-trip.
  • Value: 4/4. Amazingly, PDX Bus is free. Fortunately, creator Andrew Wallace did take home $4,000 when PDXBus won "best in show" from the CivicApps competition in July 2010.

Bottom line: 26/28. Once you find your way around its jungle of an interface, this is unquestionably Portland's best all-purpose transit app, as long as you're willing to spring for a smartphone.

[edit] The Transit App

The Transit App is a free trip planning app for iPhone that offers in-app subscriptions for premium content.

  • price: free, but $1 a month / $5 a year to find more than the three nearest departures from a given location
  • version tested: 1.2.3
  • date tested: 11/9/12
  • website: TheTransitApp.com
  • link to download
  • Stability: 3/4.: Occasionally the trip-planning interface would successfully map, but fail to identify, the first route to be boarded. (This bug could usually be resolved by cycling through the trip options several times.) There also seem to be bugs surrounding the ability to click on a boarding or deboarding point and get more information about it.
  • Interpretation: 3/4.: Everything was going smoothly until we searched this non-local app for "2134." Instead of a TriMet stop at NE Glisan and 67th, the app directed us to Latvia. Smaller issue: the app failed to ask whether we meant NW or NE 10th Avenue.
  • Accuracy: 4/4.: Like the best apps, this one draws on both real-time and scheduled arrival data, using the first one if available and helpfully marking real-time arrival numbers with a radio wave icon. We were especially impressed by the accurately color-coded MAX lines and the Foursquare-powered search, which allows you to search for a location by business name ("McDonalds"; "Proud Ground").
  • Flexibility: 3/4.: Start and finish locations are neatly divided and can be edited separately. The ease of flipping between three different trip options -- a single tap on the necessary departure time -- is excellent. The ability to adjust maximum walking distance, however, is a problem.
  • Usability: 4/4.: This app soars above its more feature-rich competitor PDX Bus in usability. The elegant graphical interface takes some getting used to -- the "search" button, which is important in trip planning, seemed inappropriately sidelined -- but its use of the small screen space to arrange the essential tasks is extremely effective.
  • Features: 3/4.: The lack of bookmarks is a major shortcoming, though the app's arrival service does store "recent locations." Support for numerical stop IDs would also be great, though the lack isn't surprising for an app developed in Montreal. It's also not possible to customize walking distance. These limitations aside, the app has excellent priorities and packs an impressive number of features (including Streetcar information and a full schedule listing for every line) into a great graphical interface.
  • Value: 3/4.: Maybe the most innovative feature of this app is its subscription model. The free version, which finds only the three closest bus stops to a given location, will be good for almost all casual transit users -- especially since it's easy to manually enter a second location. Tourists will find the full version particularly attractive -- at 99 cents for a single month to locate all nearby stops in an unfamiliar city. Heavy transit users, meanwhile, can pay $4.99 a year to grab all nearby stops.
  • Bottom line: 23/28. By far the best national trip-planning app we tested. Even if you don't want this for Portland -- and the semantic Foursquare search alone makes it a worthy competitor to PDX Bus -- get it for your trips elsewhere.

[edit] Google Maps (iPhone)

Google Maps is a trip planning app used on both Android and iPhone platforms. This review covers the iPhone app.

  • price: free
  • Stability: 4/4.
  • Interpretation: 2/4. Google Maps can't do Stop IDs. Rather than asking which "10th and Couch" corner we wanted, it assumed the northwest Portland location, which was closer to the previous search. Suggestions while typing mean that many ambiguities can be resolved before you hit "Plan Trip".
  • Accuracy: 4/4. Provides detailed step by step directions and can easily show how trips look on the map.
  • Flexibility: 3/4. It’s easy to adjust times and locations, though Google Maps automatically selects walking distance.
  • Usability: 3/4. Directions are clear and it's easy to switch from map view to list view. List view has lots of useful information. Arrows in map view make it easy to flip through every leg of the trip one at a time. The number of features slow things down, though.
  • Features: 3/4. Google Maps offers the ability to check out anything else you need on the map, as well as comparing transit trip time and cost with other trips. It lacks the secondary bells and whistles of a specialized app like Transit -- most notably, there's no way to monitor arrival times for a particular stop -- but the ability to flip to car or walking modes and access Google's wealth of other map information make up for this.
  • Value: 4/4. Solid trip planner with the benefit of all of Google Maps' other features -- for free.

Bottom line: 23/28. The best nonspecialized multi-city trip planner for iOS, but not as good as the best specialized ones.

[edit] vTransit

vTransit is the unusual trip planning app that doesn't include arrival info.

  • price: 99 cents
  • version tested: 1.3, updated 10/19/12
  • web presence: iTunes store link
  • Stability: 4/4. Apps that don't do much tend to be stable.
  • Interpretation: 1/4. Couldn't find "Amtrak" or "OMSI." No stop IDs.
  • Accuracy: 4/4.
  • Flexibility: 2/4. Poor location search makes it hard to adjust a trip destination. No way to plan a trip by arrival time, only by departure.
  • Usability: 4/4. Apps that don't do much tend to be usable.
  • Features: 1/4. One of the thinnest-featured trip planning apps.
  • Value: 2/4. There are better ways to spend your $1.

Bottom Line: 18/28. Many cookie-cutter transit apps fail because they try too hard; this one fails because it doesn't try hard enough.

[edit] Go Public

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Go Public is a multi-city arrival app with a poorly implemented trip planning feature.

  • price: 99 cents per city
  • version tested: 1.3.1, from 7/6/2013
  • website: GoPublicApp.com
  • Stability: 2/4. The interface seems to lag. Crashed twice during testing.
  • Interpretation: 1/4. Knew where the various Amtrak trains were in real time, but not where the station was. Can't search by intersection. Doesn't understand stop IDs. The "plan a trip to here" feature doesn't even seem available in many situations.
  • Accuracy: 2/4. Detects where you are when you ask for nearby stops, but not when you're in list view looking for various destinations.
  • Flexibility: 2/4. Switching destinations or changing to a different day is clumsy. Looking for a later trip today is easy.
  • Usability: 2/4. Packs many features into a graphical interface but fails to make them work elegantly together.
  • Features: 4/4. Stop info includes nearby businesses and available like transfers. Seems to use the map zoom level to determine whether or not to consolidate several stops into one. Tracks and displays real-time vehicle locations.
  • Value: 2/4. Does a lot for a buck, but not well enough for applause.

Bottom line: 15/28. Too ambitious for its own good. A pain to use for basic tasks.

[edit] TransitGuru Portland TriMet

transitguru
TransitGuru

This is the full version of the trip planning app for iPhone, for $2.99; the $1.99 version is rail-only.

  • price: $2.99
  • version tested: 1.4
  • date tested: 1/20/11
  • Stability: 1/4. Crashed a couple times during testing. Attempt to use Google Maps inside the app worked poorly.
  • Interpretation: 0/4. No ability to accept text input.
  • Accuracy: 1/4. Finds the nearest stations but doesn't report its own location, so it's hard to tell when it's being accurate. Arrival times are scheduled, not real-time.
  • Flexibility: 1/4. Changing one stop forces you to re-enter both. When setting departure time, app doesn't understand that the second leg of your trip must happen after the first leg of your trip.
  • Usability: 1/4. The many features feel held together by spit and paper clips. Icons and words seem used indiscriminately. Maps are not clickable. Placement of the most unique feature (the alarm) is hard to find. Numbered lines are sorted alphabetically rather than numerically, so the 9 bus is listed between the 89 and the 92. Photo slot for each location seems nice, but every stop in the system carries the same photo.
  • Features: 3/4. Count number of stops between two stations (but not the travel time) with the "route" function. Set an alarm to go off a specified number of minutes before your arrival. Search Yelp for stores and events near a given station. Bookmark favorite routes or stops. Having data for the Aerial Tram and vintage trolley is nice, though it's not clear that the MAX mall shuttle needs a category of its own. Lets you download system maps, but they're not clickable.
  • Value: 1/4. Ick.

Bottom line: 8/28. It would be possible to master this app and get one or two unique tricks out of it, but only in the rarest of situations. As you might guess from the silly, search-friendly name, this is a cookie-cutter program by an out-of-town profiteer.

[edit] Rail-only trip planning apps

These planners only allow trips on MAX and/or Portland Streetcar. Each planner was tested on several trips between different MAX and streetcar stations.

The criteria:

  • stability
  • accuracy
  • speed
  • usability
  • features

The scores, out of a possible 24:

[edit] Android

[edit] iTransitBuddy Lite

itransitbuddy
iTransitBuddy

iTransitBuddy Lite is a rail-only trip planner for multiple transit systems. There’s no special version for Trimet as there is for other systems, so you have to purchase the more expensive general version.

  • price: $1.99 (temporarily free)
  • downloads as of November 2013: 1,000+
  • version tested: 3.0.0
  • Stability: 4/4. The application runs fine, although it's hard to say whether it's stable when you can't do much with it.
  • Accuracy: 0/4. In this version, I couldn't get the planner to give me any results at all.
  • Speed: 1/4. Looking up lines and stops is glacially slow.
  • Usability: 1/4. The app provides a list of lines without any numbers, and seems to provide bus lines even though it's advertised as a rail trip planner. There is no arrivals function, only planning a trip from one stop on a line to another.
  • Features: 0/4. No features except the non-functional trip planner.
  • Value: 0/4. The cost is relatively high and the functionality is absurdly low.

Bottom line: 6/24. This application is basically nonfunctional for Portland. Don't go anywhere near it.

[edit] TransitGuru Portland TriMet Max (Android)

transitguru
TransitGuru

TransitGuru Portland TriMet Max is a rail-only trip planner. This is the Android version.

  • price: $1.99
  • downloads as of January 2011: 50-100
  • version tested: 1.0
  • Stability: 1/4. The app force-closes often when trip planning and sometimes at other times.
  • Accuracy: 1/4. Sometimes the trip planner just didn’t produce any results, even though it’s possible to get to any MAX station from any other. It appeared to be a temporary software failure.
  • Speed: 4/4. When the trip planner does work, it’s fast -- as it should be.
  • Usability: 1/4. High amount of interface inconsistency and sloppy placement, including text over top of graphics. Names of stations on map are not the same as the names of stations in the text box selector, making typing station names confusing. The ability to see the trip on the rail map is nice, but when a trip includes the downtown area, the jumpout to the inset is messy and unneeded. Multistage trip directions are clearer but less useful than an overview.
  • Features: 2/4. Yelp integration is cool, and route selection with first/last and next trains is nice (and easy to reverse the direction on), but when the basics aren’t covered, it’s almost frustrating to have other cool features added. Limiting the application to arrivals information and station location for MAX, Streetcar, and other rail lines only (Vintage Trolley is listed, but we couldn’t see any departures) makes it less useful.
  • Value: 1/4. The cost is very high for the functionality, especially considering the low reliability and poor interface.

Bottom line: 10/24. The graphical trip representation, clickable map, and Yelp integration are nice ideas, but they aren’t backed up by a reliable, well-designed app -- and they expect you to pay a premium price. Give it a miss.

[edit] RailBandit

railbandit
RailBandit

RailBandit offers rail trip planning for many agencies, including Amtrak. The Android version is newly-released as of our testing date in January 2011. This is the Android version; it's also available on BlackBerry, iPhone and Java-enabled phones. Among the rail lines included are MAX, Portland Streetcar, and WES.

  • price: $7.89 as of Jan 22, 2011. A 10-day free trial is available; when we tested, the full version was posted at $9.99.
  • downloads as of January 2011: <50
  • version tested: 2.5.1 (trial)
  • Stability: 2/4. The app force-closes on startup at times.
  • Accuracy: 2/4. Trip selection involving a transfer from Streetcar to MAX to WES succeeded and the app highlighted the length of time to departure. Although you select a stop (not a location) from the trip planner, the planner occasionally assigns you to another stop close by. At other times it doesn’t, producing unnecessary rides and transfers.
  • Speed: 2/4. The app is slow to start up but the trip planner is fast. It was a bit slow to grab the GPS and nearby station list.
  • Usability: 3/4. The layout of station selection is awkward if you have data for multiple non-connecting agencies, since you can only choose from display options of nearby stops (once a GPS fix and stop list is acquired), all stops, or all stops for a particular line. The use of text color for times is helpful, but the trip detail is excessively fussy, showing all stops traversed.
  • Features: 3/4. The comprehensive listing of recent trips in the main screen, as well as the “swap” button, makes adjusting or re-planning a trip easy, and being able to adjust the connection time tolerance is a feature we wish more apps had. It can also show departed trips, nice when you’re trying to track yourself while on board, but there’s no option to save favorite stops.
  • Value: 1/4. The free trial version is useful for testing out the functionality, but the investment for the full version is far more than required for any other app we tested.

Bottom line: 13/24. The app works acceptably well for Portland’s light and commuter rail lines, but unless you really need data from multiple agencies and can tolerate some minor quirks in order to get it, you might be able to find a better option.

[edit] iPhone

[edit] TransitGuru Portland TriMet Max (iPhone)

transitguru
TransitGuru

TransitGuru Portland TriMet Max is a rail-only trip planner for iPhone.

  • price: $1.99
  • version tested: 1.1
  • date tested: 1/20/11
  • Stability: 4/4. No issues during testing, though other versions of this software seemed crash-prone.
  • Accuracy: 1/4. Doesn't know how to transfer from one rail line to another. If you're away from the rail system, it won't tell you how to get there -- only that you're away from the rail system. Um, thanks. Also, arrivals are scheduled, not real-time.
  • Speed: 4/4. Good speed.
  • Usability: 1/4. Like its big brother, TransitGuru Portland TriMet, this app's many features are tacked on sloppily. The redeeming virtue: without bus times, there's no need to flip between two entirely separate panels.
  • Features: 2/4. All the features of TransitGuru Portland TriMet, but without bus times.
  • Value: 1/4. Cheap. Not cheap enough.

Bottom line: 13/24. A stain upon the App Store.

[edit] Location and arrival apps

These apps tell you when a bus or train is coming and are also able to detect your location, but unlike trip planning apps they don't spell out how to get from place to place. We graded these apps in five areas:

  • accuracy (of location)
  • speed
  • stability
  • usability
  • features, a measure of the quality of side features to the basic service
  • value

Each program received 0 to 4 points in each area, for a maximum 24 points. Location tests used GPS if the program offered working GPS support. The scores:

[edit] All smartphones

[edit] Trimet Mobile (Transit Tracker)

  • Accuracy: 4/4. Accurate in our tests, and lists nearby stops with the option to see your own location on a map, balancing getting you the list quickly with ensuring you can find out whether it’s accurate. More nearby stops are available at a click if you don’t see the one you want.
  • Speed: 3/4. Quick and responsive once the initial hurdle of clearing the site to access GPS location was finished, but setting that up was a bit confusing.
  • Stability: 4/4. No issues.
  • Usability: 2/4. Having a separate screen to determine Stop ID (by street, landmark, or GPS) when you don’t know it is less nice than having a box that can accept multiple types of input. Though this is a typical limitation for arrival tracking, we hoped TriMet might do a bit better for itself. It’s not easy to select a new stop if you want to check different arrivals, and if you enter a Stop ID for arrivals, there’s no link to the stop’s information page, which would be easy to add (it does appear when you’re looking for a stop by location).
  • Features: 2/4. Having both directions listed on the “select stop by route” page saves a click, and being able to hit Reload whenever you want is nice (otherwise, it auto-reloads every 30 seconds). Integrated service alert information. No ability to add favorites.
  • Value: 4/4. Free, functional, and reliable.
  • Bottom line: 19/24. The interface is clean and covers the core functionality of arrivals, but there are few extras.

[edit] Android

[edit] Pdxtrian

pdxtrian
Pdxtrian

Pdxtrian is an location-and-arrival app for Android.

  • price: free
  • downloads as of January 2011: 1,000-5,000
  • version tested: 1.1
  • Accuracy: 4/4. Found location quickly and accurately in trials, even indoors.
  • Speed: 4/4. Moves quickly from locations to stops and arrivals.
  • Stability: 4/4. No issues with stability.
  • Usability: 3/4. Addition of a map is nice but means the arrivals info is not front and center. Colored imminent arrivals are nice.
  • Features: 2/4. Cannot enter a stop ID, only find nearby stops and favorites.
  • Value: 4/4. Free.

Bottom line: 21/24. A good basic arrivals app with reliable location service.

[edit] Transicast

transicast
Transicast

Transicast is a location-and-arrival app for Android that includes TriMet, among other systems.

  • price: free
  • downloads as of November 2013: 5,000-10,000
  • version tested: 3.9
  • Accuracy: 4/4. Able to find location accurately.
  • Speed: 4/4. Loads stops quickly on location fix or click.
  • Stability: 4/4. App seems stable.
  • Usability: 2/4. The interface is still confusing, but has improved a little bit in recent versions. The search radius has a reasonable default now and double-click is no longer required. However, our other complaints remain: bookmarking system lacks the polish of either the Android browser or most apps’ Favorites system. Auto-center map view setting centers the stop near the bottom of the map for some reason. The times are displayed in minutes rather than hours and minutes, with latest times first (the opposite of what you need) and the display is too small even for my good eyes to parse easily. Although it easily finds nearby stops, the default first presentation puts you through a license agreement and selecting the transit agency from a confusing map, which would be better skipped.
  • Features: 2/4. Blinking imminent arrival times is a nice touch, as is street view for the stop (when it works properly), and being able to click around and see stops nearby various points is actually pretty cool. But the difficulty navigating basic functionality means extra features aren't so helpful.
  • Value: 3/4. Free, but not that useful.

Bottom line: 19/24. This could be a nice app with a little interface refinement, and its multi-agency capability makes it a reasonable option for someone who travels a lot. For everyone else: it hasn't improved much in a couple years, so it's probably not going to.

[edit] TriMet Tracker

TriMet Tracker is a simple location and arrivals app for Android.

  • price: $0.99 or free with ad support
  • downloads as of November 2013: 100-500
  • version tested: 1.18
  • Accuracy: 4/4. Quick to pick up GPS from the system, and showed location accurately.
  • Speed: 3/4. Interface is responsive, but "nearby stops" radius is so wide, it was difficult to select without zooming in.
  • Stability: 4/4. App responded well during testing and did not crash.
  • Usability: 3/4. Clean and basic interface, but few buttons are provided. Instead, many options are hidden in the menu, even the ability to favorite a stop, which in almost every other app is a one-click action. Buttons for finding nearby stops, getting back home, and favoriting would be particularly useful.
  • Features: 4/4. Includes the expected nearby stops or selection by stop ID, as well as selecting a stop by route, although that's a bit hidden. Display of stop ID in route selection and routes in stop list are both nice touches, as is the red for distant arrivals (more than an hour away). Shortcut to TriMet's page on the stop is also provided as well as ability to see the stop on a map. Being able to sort the main page by recently or frequently visited stops is a great extra.
  • Value: 4/4. Just a dollar or free (with ads) is just fine for an accurate and useful app.

Bottom line: 22/24. Great for any frequent TriMet traveler who just wants to know when the next bus is at the stops they usually visit without any clutter. Could be a little easier to use.

[edit] PDX Transit Finder

pdxtransitfinder
PDX Transit Finder

PDX Transit Finder is a location-and-arrival app for Android. The app is no longer supported by the developer, and is not being updated.

  • price: free
  • downloads as of January 2011: 10,000-50,000
  • version tested: 1.0.12
  • Accuracy: 2/4. Finds location quickly but doesn't display it, leaving the user to wonder if it's correct based on the displayed stops.
  • Speed: 3/4. Quite slow at times to load arrivals. GPS reasonably fast, even indoors.
  • Stability: 4/4. No problems with stability.
  • Usability: 2/4. Basically functional but lacks attention to detail, with sloppy placement of text and buttons, a small typeface, and inconsistencies in the Favorites capabilities. The app doesn’t distinguish between no arrivals" and "nonexistent stop ID". In map view, arrival data is confined to tiny text atop the screen.
  • Features: 2/4. No arrivals for streetcar even though listed in the interface. TriMet route info on click-and-hold is nice.
  • Value: 3/4. Free but mediocre.

Bottom line: 18/24. A functional arrivals app with a reasonable interface, but lacking refinement.

[edit] AnyStop

AnyStop is a national transit-app company. This is their location-and-arrival service for Portland.

  • price: free
  • downloads as of October 2012: 10,000+
  • version tested: 3.4.4
  • Accuracy: 1/4. Found location accurately in trials, even indoors, but stop and route information is very out of date, making the app much less useful.
  • Speed: 2/4. Quick to find a fix and calculate nearby stops, but slow to change display after each click, and having the extra step of selecting between nearby routes and nearby stops means it takes longer to get where you want.
  • Stability: 4/4. No problems with stability.
  • Usability: 2/4. Basic navigation is okay, but the app uses non-standard favorite icons, and information layout is poor, with stops illogically sorted and unnecessarily replicated. Arrival information is not clearly distinguished from stop description. Route direction is not obvious without careful attention. Manual refresh is required on arrival time displays, where most apps provide automatic refresh.
  • Features: 3/4. The ability to find nearby stops, add favorites and display a map makes this a reasonably useful arrivals candidate, but it's nothing special. You can't enter a stop ID to find a stop, unfortunately. Being able to select a start location is nice, as is the ability to favorite routes.
  • Value: 3/4. It's free, and does most of the things you might want, albeit not with much flair.

Bottom line: 15/24. Route information hasn't been updated in a long time, and the app isn't very responsive. Could be better if it was kept up to date, but at this point, not worth the time.

[edit] iPhone

[edit] ArrivalTracker

arrivaltracker
ArrivalTracker

ArrivalTracker is a location-and-arrival app for iPhone.

  • price: $1.99
  • version tested: 1.2.4, updated July 2013
  • date tested: 11/10/13
  • Accuracy: 2/4. Lists nearby stops but doesn't seem to reliably display where it thinks you are, or how to get to unfamiliar stops. Creator Tim Trautmann set out to optimize the app for people with visual disabilities, so this may be a necessary evil.
  • Speed: 4/4. Quick and responsive.
  • Stability: 4/4. No issues.
  • Usability: 4/4. Combined route/stop search is clever, though it forces you to use a keypad every time you browse for new stops. Using a clickable star icon for "favorites," like Google products, may trip some up but works nicely once you get it. The "stop id" screen knows when you've keyed in a correct entry, displaying the name and flipping a switch to green -- a creative and delightful touch.
  • Features: 4/4. "Recent stops" feature is great, as are the icons on the route list that identify transit centers, breaking up the long list of stations. Must flip between different screens to monitor arrivals at mutliple stops.
  • Value: 3/4. If you're an iPhone user who wants to quickly call up arrival times but doesn't need trip planning, is a couple bucks worth it for a beautiful, simple, highly usable app? You betcha.

Bottom line: 21/24. Possibly the best-looking app we reviewed, and if it works as intended with visual disabilities, a real gem. Not a perfect solution if you're deciding which of several stops to head for, or if you're on unfamiliar territory and don't know exactly where stops are.

[edit] PDX Transit

portlandtransit
PDX Transit

PDX Transit, sometimes called Portland Transit, is an arrival-and-location app for iPhone. We use the shorter name, which is its default display name on the iPhone, to distinguish it from the Portland Transit Android apps.

  • price: $1.99
  • version tested: 1.1
  • date tested: 1/20/11
  • Accuracy: 2/4. Lists nearby stops but not your own location, which makes it hard to know where it thinks you are, or how to get to unfamiliar stops.
  • Speed: 2/4. Consistently underperformed Arrival Tracker, in part because PDX Transit doesn't seem to save data from recently used stops.
  • Stability: 4/4. No issues.
  • Usability: 2/4. Clunky here and there: we don't like it when the "enter" button for a search is at the top of the screen. "Inbound/outbound" distinction isn't much use for the many lines that do both, like the Blue Line or 4.
  • Features: 2/4. No streetcar data, and no warning that it's absent. The ability to set your own definition for "nearby stops" is terrific, though.
  • Value: 2/4. If you're an occasional or one-time rider, just get PDX Bus for free. If you're a heavy rider, Arrival Tracker is worth the extra dollar in this class.

Bottom line: 14/20. Not a bad app. Some tweaks could make it one of the better ones -- but unfortunately it hasn't been updated since 2009.

[edit] AllSchedules

AllSchedules attempts (but usually fails) to detect location and display arrival times by route number for a given metro area.

  • price: free
  • version tested: 2.3.1, updated 9/12/2012
  • Accuracy: 3/4. Correctly finds your own location, but icons for nearby stops only appear at high zoom, forcing you to scroll around the map to find them.
  • Speed: 4/4. No issues.
  • Stability: 1/4. Lists the nonexistent 2, 3 and 5 buses as Portland lines when they actually start in Tillamook. Real-time features fail to work, displaying "na min" to arrival. Schedules, at least, were accurately displayed.
  • Usability: 1/4. The "draw route" feature is nearly useless, due to the inexplicable decision to zoom to the "start" of each bus route, wherever that happens to be. Portland riders will also be confused by the app's distinction between "metro," "rail" and "tram," the last of which actually refers to MAX.
  • Features: 1/4. It's a good thing this app doesn't do very many things, since it fails at almost everything it attempts.
  • Value: 1/4. Though it's free, the only possible use of this app would be for people who frequently ride transit outside of Portland to call up future schedule information in an unfamiliar city that doesn't have a free app of its own.

Bottom line: 11/20. Yet another completely failed attempt at an international cookie-cutter transit app.

[edit] Simple arrival apps

These are similar to location and arrival apps, but they can't detect your location. Instead, they're for quickly finding the next arrival at one or two familiar stops, such as the ones nearest your home or work.

We graded them on four criteria:

  • stability
  • usability
  • features
  • value

Each program received 0 to 4 points in each area, for a maximum 16 points. The scores:

[edit] All phones with text messaging

[edit] TriMet TransitTracker by text message

TransitTracker by text allows you to simply text a Stop ID to TriMet and get back a quick summary of the next arrivals.

  • Text number: 27299
  • Tested: Jan 25, 2011
  • Stability: 4/4. Responded quickly in all cases.
  • Usability: 2/4. Information content of messages varies in order to keep the information plus the included ad under the text limit, which can result in minimal information and sometimes confusing variations. A request for 14 arrivals at 3639 (SW Madison and 4th) included no information beyond "Service Alert". The texts are sent to one number but arrive from another, which is particularly irritating on smartphones that track threading on texts.
  • Features: 1/4. The ability to include a line by number or name is helpful, but there are no other features as such.
  • Value: 3/4. The included ads create visual clutter, making the service less useful even though they also make it free (aside from standard text charges).

Bottom line: 10/16. For users with basic feature phones who just need the next arrivals at their stop, this is quicker in a pinch than calling TriMet, but it's not as clear or informative. Dadnab does a far better job of conveying a lot of information in the short space of a text message. Smartphone users have better options.

[edit] Android

[edit] Portland Transit Lite

This very simple arrival app functions mostly as a demo for Portland Transit, the best trip planning app for Android.

  • price: free
  • downloads as of January 2011: 10,000-50,000
  • version tested: 9.11.3
  • Stability: 4/4. No issues. Very fast.
  • Usability: 3/4. Very simple and easy to use -- but so simple that it's not clear why Android's peekaboo "menu" function is needed at all.
  • Features: 1/4. Link to display a stop in a map, but no mapping inside the app. Can't reorder or rename stops.
  • Value: 4/4. Not bad for a free service. It just doesn't do much.

Bottom line: 12/16. If it included a location service, this could be the best such app for Android, but the developer wanted to save that for the excellent paid version.

[edit] Transitly (Android)

Transitly is a simple arrival app for the Android platform as well as a web-based arrival app.

  • price: $0.99
  • downloads as of January 2011: 100-500
  • version tested: 1.1
  • Stability: 4/4. No issues with stability.
  • Usability: 3/4. Displays arrivals for as many stops as you like. It’s somewhat slow to set up, and the stop-ordering for each route is not entirely predictable. Scrolling is a bit stiff, and seconds are included in arrival times, cluttering the display.
  • Features: 2/4. You can re-order the stops based on your preference and choose a color scheme, but there are no extras.
  • Value: 2/4. With a free web version that works just as well but doesn’t look quite as nice, and not too many features, Transitly doesn’t give you a lot for the money.

Bottom line: 12/16. It’s okay, but there’s better out there.

[edit] iPhone

[edit] Arrival

arrival
Arrival
  • price: $1.99
  • version tested: 1.2.2, from April 2011 - doesn't seem to be supported as of late 2013
  • Stability: 3/4. No Streetcar CL Line arrivals, but the rest of the system seems to work.
  • Usability: 4/4. Simple and straightforward.
  • Features: 3/4. This is basically a customizable arrival screen, good for monitoring several frequently-used stops at once. Lets you customize the names of both routes and stops.
  • Value: 2/4. The free competitors are functional but less usable; the paid competitors do more.

Bottom line: 11/16. A much more user-friendly version of the free web-based Transit Board.

[edit] Web

[edit] MyTriMet.com

mytrimet
MyTriMet.com

MyTrimet.com is a simple arrivals webpage that gives results for two specific stops based on time of day; it’s intended for regular commuters.

  • Stability: 4/4. Simple interface means it comes up quickly and shows you what you need.
  • Usability: 2/4. Default sizing is much too small on the browser in portrait orientation, and tap-to-zoom makes it too big. Lots of extra information that’s fun but not likely to be useful to most people.
  • Features: 2/4. Its intended use as a simple arrivals app for commuters is fulfilled well by the display of one route and stop for morning and one for afternoon. Stop override if you need a different stop is useful (but you can't just switch to your other chosen stop), as is the ability to show arrivals for all routes at the stop. Setup is straightforward but slow and must be done separately for each browser.
  • Value: 3/4. Free, but has limited features.

Bottom line: 11/16. If you’re a commuter who wants a bare-bones mobile web arrivals app, this might be your answer, despite the slightly cluttered interface.

[edit] Transit Surfer

transitsurfer
Transit Surfer

Transit Surfer is a web-based simple arrival app offered by Portland Transport, intended for any xHTML-capable phone browser. It was created by Chris Smith, who sits on the board of Portland Afoot's publisher.

  • Stability: 3/4. Entering a Stop ID or selecting a stop by route works great, but entering a route into the route/stop ID box wasn’t working when we first tried it. After contacting Portland Transport, the problem was quickly fixed.
  • Usability: 3/4. The interface is simple and works well in most cases. Ability to select a stop from either direction on the initial stop selection page is appreciated. The time displays are somewhat harder to read when the next buses’ final destinations are different.
  • Features: 3/4. We love the arrows to navigate to the next and previous stop on the line (you can check whether the bus will pass you if you keep walking) and the “stops nearby” feature. Ability to “favorite” stop or set up “choice sets” as described on Portland Transport’s projected improvements would be much appreciated.
  • Value: 4/4. Free.

Bottom line: 13/16. Clean, useful, and creative interface easily accessible from any mobile web browser supporting basic HTML.

[edit] Transitly (web)

transitly
Transitly

Transitly is both a 99-cent Android simple arrival app and a free web-based one, reviewed here. The web version works anywhere, including a desktop, but was apparently intended for iPhone, because it looks weird in other settings.

  • Stability: 4/4. No issues, except that it looks terrible on Android or desktop.
  • Usability: 2/4. Transitly displays the next three departures for any number of stops on a single screen -- very nice. When it says "add a route," it really means "add a stop"; but the big problem is that after you pick a route, Transitly forces you to ask for either "westbound," "eastbound," "northbound" or "southtbound" departures -- nonsense in Portland, where routes like the 4 and 19 twist in every direction over the course of their route.
  • Features: 3/4. No custom names or time to departure.
  • Value: 4/4. Free.

Bottom line: 13/16. For people with iPhones, this cookie-cutter app would easily be the best in its class of web-based simple arrival apps ... if not for the one-size-fits-all assumption that any bus route can be easily described using cardinal direction pairs such as "eastbound" or "westbound."

[edit] MyMet

myMet is a simple arrivals app with the nice additional feature of telling you what the most recent and most frequent stops entered are (in general, or, if you log in with Google, for yourself).

  • Stability: 4/4. Simple interface means it comes up quickly and shows you what you need.
  • Usability: 1/4. Regardless of the screen size, it comes up in a tiny bar on the left-hand side (on the Android stock browser and on a standard web browser). When arrival times come up, they're presented in a compact but rather terse format, especially for times not on the current day. Having recent and frequent stops is nice, but can't make up for this annoyance.
  • Features: 2/4. You can't figure out a stop ID for an unknown stop. Having the ability to be known to the app, rare for web apps, is nice.
  • Value: 3/4. Free, but has limited features.

Bottom line: 10/16. This is definitely a bare-bones app other than the memory features, but since it's just a website, adding it to your bookmarks won't set you back.

[edit] Niche Applications

These are helpful applications for using TriMet that don’t fall into one of the three categories above.

[edit] Web

[edit] PDX Live Bus

This is a realtime map of TriMet vehicle locations (despite the name, it does include the MAX). However, the feature set is very limited, pretty much only allowing dragging the map around and zooming in. On a mobile browser, only zooming in is possible.

Zooming in causes funny effects with the vehicles 'flying' to their new position on the map.

It's a cool idea, but basically just a novelty right now. Even some of the features that were present on launch, like clicking on a bus to get destination, or filtering to a particular line, don't seem to work anymore.

[edit] Portland Bike to Transit Map

biketotransit
Bike to Transit map

This map helps you find bike routes connecting to the transit stop you need. The map shows streets, indications of bike infrastructure type, transit stops, transit lines, and current positions of transit vehicles (you can turn any of these off if they are distracting).

The map provides an indication of what stops are associated with which lines if you are using a full PC and click on the stop, but this feature is not available if you are on a smartphone. You can click on a link in the information popup to see arrivals for those stops.

Bottom line: Good concept, and likely to be useful if you know what stop you need and want to see a visual presentation of how the bike network can get you there.

[edit] Apps and Services We Skipped

transitq
TransitQ, one of the apps not yet reviewed here.
  • Sendero, for the blind and visually impaired;
  • Unibus, Buster and jtrimet, not available for download;
  • NextBus, Transit Mapper, Transit Trips, Transit Time Map, for full PC or Web platforms;
  • RouteShout, StopFinder and Commute, seemingly no data for TriMet;
  • PDXT, returned an error 404;
  • Junaio, not transit-focused;
  • RealTime Transit, for Windows Phone 7;
  • and TransitQ, for PalmOS.

If you would like to review any of these services, please feel free to add it. E-mail michael@portlandafoot.org if you have questions.

[edit] Methodology

All Android apps and web-based solutions were tested on a Motorola Droid running Android 2.2 with the stock browser, between 50% and 100% charge, in various areas of SE and NE Portland both indoors and out. Signal strength on the Verizon network varied between -65 and -75 dBm.

Apple apps tested in 2011 were on an iPhone 3GS running OS version 4.2.1, between 50% and 100% charge, on the AT&T network in NE Portland. Apple apps tested in 2012 were on an iPad 2 running OS version 6.0.

[edit] Other people's reviews


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