Today a TransLink iPhone app was launched on the iTunes App Store, which was created by Vancouver's Handi Mobility. The app is near identical to the m.translink.ca web app launched last month, providing schedule information for any route or stop in the system, but it uses PhoneGap (a made in Vancouver, open source solution) to run locally on the device. This allows it to load faster than the web version, and also use phone hardware features like geolocation. Whereas the user previously had to enter a stop or route number, the app now suggests a list of stops closest to your current location.
On Translink's Buzzer Blog Handi's Igor Faletski talks about how reasonably priced data plans have enabled applications like this, and shares some stats.
Our company is focused on mobile internet and its applications. We were just waiting for the day that Vancouver could get affordable data rates so more people could access our services. Then the iPhone launched, had affordable rates, and provided a rich visual experience. Put together, we needed to make sure TransLink could get to that audience.
In terms of actual statistics, NextBus SMS serves up to 16,000 text messages a day. When we launched the iPhone portal, traffic to that application grew 300 percent in one month. There are more than 1000 users on it every day and the number keeps growing.
Translink is the first transit system in Canada to have produced it's own iPhone app, but other systems do have third party options. Over east in Toronto, riders of the TTC have the very attractive and functional Red Rocket. At only $1.99, it's the #2 paid app in the "navigation" category. For Montreal, there is the $0.99 STM Mobile with full schedule features but no geolocation.