What’s new in OneBusAway for iOS 18.2

I’m excited to announce that, after five months of work and hundreds of commits, OneBusAway 18.2 is now available on the App Store. OneBusAway is a free, open-source real-time transit app that serves the Seattle/Puget Sound area, Tampa, San Diego, Washington, D.C., and many more major metropolitan areas.

This release features many terrific new features, lots of bug fixes, and some exciting new capabilities for transit agencies. Today, we’re going to cover my three favorite new features in this release:

  1. The Map Table: an easy way to see all of the transit stops around you.
  2. Agency Alerts: a simple way for your transit agency to share breaking news for your commute.
  3. Siri Shortcuts: a quick way to access your most-used transit stops. Siri works with OneBusAway to learn your favorite transit stops in order to recommend them from the lock and search screens automatically.

You can download OneBusAway from the App Store for free, and find the source code for the OneBusAway iOS app on GitHub.

Map Table

The first new feature on our list is the most obvious visual change in OneBusAway: the new Map Table. This feature will provide you with fast and easy access to bookmarks and recent stops, nearby stops, and — as we will discuss at greater length in a moment — alerts from your transit agency.

The Map Table will be of great benefit to both casual and ‘power’ users of OneBusAway, especially when you’re trying to find your bus stop in a crowded area—like in downtown, for instance. Instead of having to tap on several stops in order to find the correct one, you’ll be able to easily scroll through a list and choose the right one immediately. The Map Table also offers quick access to your nearby bookmarks and recent stops, which means that you’ll be able to easily see the stops that you use most frequently.

Last, but certainly not least, the Map Table will display regional alerts from transit agencies, which will give you a head’s up about reroutes, delays, and special events before you try to catch the bus.

Agency Alerts

If you lived in Seattle in 2015, you might remember the day that the salmon truck overturned on Highway 99. I remember it all too well. I was working downtown, and had been dating the lovely woman who is now my wife for less than a month. We had dinner plans with her friends, and I was trapped on a bus downtown amidst the worst traffic I had seen in years. It was only the next day that I read about the back-story of this ‘stinker of a commute,’ as the Seattle Times described it. If OneBusAway for iOS’s new Agency Alerts feature had been available back in 2015, I would’ve at least known why I was stuck in traffic, and I would have been able to give a better excuse for my tardiness than ‘traffic is really awful.’

Agency Alerts give riders important information about their commutes

Agency Alerts lets you quickly see short messages from your transit agency right inside of the Map Table, along with the option to tap on these alerts in order to learn more details about the alert.

Psst, Hey Transit Agencies: Check This Out

Agency Alerts are implemented in full compliance with the industry standard GTFS-RT specification, which means that any transit agency publishing GTFS-RT transit alerts via the GTFS-RT Export API can expect to immediately see their alerts show up inside of OneBusAway for iOS without any extra work on their part. And for transit agencies that can’t or don’t yet publish GTFS-RT alerts, the alerts.onebusaway.org system is ready and able to publish alerts on your behalf.

Check out the video below for an example of how easy it is to publish GTFS-RT alerts from the alerts.onebusaway.org system.

Siri Shortcuts

Last, but certainly not least, on our slate of new features is support for iOS 12’s new built-in machine learning system, Siri Shortcuts. Here’s how Apple describes Siri Shortcuts:

Siri learns your routines across your apps. Siri then suggests an easy way to perform common tasks on the Lock screen or in Search. To use a Siri Suggestion, just tap it on the Lock screen. Or swipe down from the center of your screen to show Search, then tap the Siri Suggestion.

OneBusAway supports Siri Shortcuts to help you access your most commonly used stops. There’s literally nothing you have to do or configure to make it work. Just use the app like you always do, and Siri will make helpful suggestions at just the right time.

In Closing

Thanks for taking the time to learn about the new features in OneBusAway 18.2 for iOS. If you have any suggestions for us, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at iphone-app@onebusaway.org. Also, OneBusAway is an open source application, and we’re always looking for developers and designers to pitch in to help make the app better. You can find the project on GitHub at https://github.com/OneBusAway/onebusaway-iphone.

Acknowledgements

Thank you to the Seattle Department of Transportation for funding this project, Alan Borning and Sean Barbeau for providing project management and technical assistance, the Mobility Innovation Center at CoMotion at the University of Washington for housing the project, and everyone who contributed their time and energy to help make this a success.