When I was in undergrad at the University of Illinois, there really wasn’t a good way to check on bus schedules while away from your computer. You could text for updates if you knew the numeric code for the stop you wanted (assuming you know which stop you wanted in the first place) and the mobile site loaded incredibly slowly if at all. When BrightBus came out I was extremely excited and after a long wait, the folks at TwoCentStudios have released a major update for the app.
The major features seem to stem from CUMTD’s new STOPwatch API. STOPwatch is the excellent service that for the last several years has let you track you bus from the CUMTD website. In general, the app makes it incredibly simple to find a stop based on your current location or by searching for an intersection and to track the wait times for each bus.
If you had BrightBus 1 installed, the first thing you’ll need to do after launching your app is to transfer your favorite stops. You will be shown a list of your old favorites and asked to select, based on the save intersection, which exact stop you want to track (i.e. from which corner you’ll be boarding the bus). Once you’ve selected your stop, just tap the star to save it.
Next you’ll come to the main page where you see a list of your favorite stops and the option to search for new ones. Tapping the saved stop will show you a list of the buses expected to arrive in the next hour and their wait times. Careful, the wait times don’t update live, so you’ll need to back out and tap the stop again to refresh the list.
To search for a new stop, tap the Stop Search tab at the bottom of your screen and enter an intersection or a stop name (like Transit Plaza). Find your stop in the list or tap the map icon in the upper-right corner to select it from a map view. You’ll be shown a list of pickup locations for that stop and a map showing their relative location. Pick where you want to board and you’ll see the incoming bus list. If you want to save that stop for later, just tap the star.
I think my favorite features of BrightBus 2 is the location-based search. While in the Stop Search tab, tap the location icon in the top left and you’ll be presented with a map that shows all the stops in your general area.
If you live in Urbana-Champaign and use the bus system, this app is definitely worth having as it will undoubtably save you some worry and hassle. There’s a special introductory price of $1.99 so I recommend picking it up now in case the developers raise the price later. The one major missing feature is the ability to enter a starting and stopping point and plot out a route. This may be a limitation of the STOPwatch API, but you’ll still need to use cumtd.com if you’re not sure which bus you’ll need to get your where you’re going.
::EDIT:: If you’re at Ohio State, there’s a BrightBus app for your school that is probably worth checking out also.