Transit 360 should be on your roadmap

App downloaded 150-200 times a day across Canada

Transit 360 averages 150-200 downloads a day across Canada. Photo: Julia Manoukian

When Jill Mader’s co-worker saw her using Google Maps he told her:

“There’s a better choice out there.”

He then showed her Transit 360.

That was two years ago. Mader, a content marketing strategist at VERB Interactive in Halifax, has been using the app ever since.

“[Transit 360] is way more useful. It’s simpler to use and it has more personalized information,” she says.

Mader, who lives in the north end and works downtown, uses the app for a one-bus ride.

“There are multiple busses that run similar routes that can get me from point A to point B, so I like to know which one to expect,” she says.

With Google Maps’s transit component down for at least two weeks in the Halifax Regional Municipality as CBC reported last night, people are turning to other navigation options.

Transit 360 is an app with a growing popularity. The Halifax-based tech startup MindSea has launched Transit 360 in eight major cities – Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Halifax, Toronto and Saskatoon – across Canada since it initially released in 2010. Director of Design at MindSea, Reuben Hall says the company now sees 150-200 downloads a day across all cities.

Initially users had to pay for the app, but in 2012 developers made it free to increase the number of downloads. Now, it’s sustained mainly on advertising.

The developers use publicly available data found on Halifax’s open data platform.

“Transit 360 is geared towards the daily commuter,” says Hall.

Hall says he hopes Google’s tech failures will get people to try Transit 360 for the first time.

“We’ve really honed in on a very focused-use case of how to find the information as quick as possible. I think we have a pretty good following in the city,” he says.

Jami Cock is a third-year industrial engineering student at Dal who used Google Maps multiple times a day. The system being down is “pretty inconvenient” for her.

Cock has the Transit 360 app, but doesn’t find it that useful.

“I find it helpful only to find out what time the bus comes to a specific spot, but as for trying to map out a route, I can’t plan a route from one destination to the next.

“Unless I’m familiar with the bus, it’s not helpful at all,” she says.

Cock says she’s been using the app, but she misses Google Maps a lot.

“Hearing that it’s going to be down for two weeks sucks, especially because exams are coming up,” she says.

Dal student Jami Cock prefers Google Maps because of it’s map-routing function. Photo: Julia Manoukian

The developers recognize Transit 360 doesn’t have the same functionality as Google – that is, telling people how to get from point A to B – but it does have easy access to routes and stops used every day.

Cock would like to see the app use Google as a model so people can know if they need transfers or not.

Developers say Google and Transit 360 can even be used together.

“Use Google for some of your A to B routes and use Transit 360 for your favourite bus stops,” says Hall.

Hall says the app’s next steps are to expand into more cities across Canada, and to broaden across different platforms like androids or tablets.

Mader has never had any problems with the app.

“I hope more people will use it. It’s been pretty handy for me.”

“It’ll change their lives,” she adds.