In the midst of operating their service, transit agencies must continually respond to situations such as construction, detours, accidents, severe weather, or special events. Response to these events often comes in the form of temporary service modifications such as reroutes, skipped stops, or canceled service. Agencies are doing a better job of alerting riders to such modifications by using more types of media, including email, web, text-message and social media. Currently, these alerts are usually sent out for an entire agency or an entire route. While clearly better than no alerts, the result for riders can be a firehouse of information, most of it not relevant to their own trips. For this initiative, the OneBusAway team worked with agencies in the Pacific Northwest to develop a web application and SIRI data repeater to allow the entry and reporting of service alert data in a standard format that enables capturing, sharing, and linking it to other real-time information sources. This paper describes the project context, the web application and repeater, and a prototype rider tool that makes use of these customized service alerts. The goal of this effort is to help agencies to be able to specify targeted alerts for specific stops, routes, trips, vehicles, and combinations thereof, so that riders receive only the information they want and need.
Watkins, Kari, Brian Ferris, Mark Hallenbeck and Alan Borning, (2012), Next Steps in Transit Rider Information: Development of a Webapp for Personalized Transit Service Alerts. Proceedings of Transportation Research Board 2012 Annual Meeting.