TransitTracker now shows “canceled” buses

TransitTracker on m.trimet.org showing canceled bus.
   TransitTracker on m.trimet.org showing canceled bus.

It already does a decent job of telling you if your bus is running late. Now, when the bus is not coming at all for some reason, TransitTracker can let you know.

Starting Monday, May 19, you’ll notice TransitTracker reporting some arrivals as “canceled.” We’re testing a feature of our new bus dispatch system that should make TransitTracker a lot more reliable when it comes to reporting canceled buses.

It’s important to know if the bus isn’t coming so you can decide if you want to wait, catch another bus or make other plans. This was the number one request from riders in a recent survey about how they use TransitTracker. (Thanks again to everyone who weighed in!)

Why would a bus be canceled? Construction, mechanical problems, accidents, weather conditions and other issues can result in a bus trip—or part of a trip—being canceled. That means some or all of the stops on the route won’t be served.

Until now, when a bus was canceled, TransitTracker would typically show a scheduled time (“2:45 p.m.”) instead of a countdown (“4 min”). That’s what the system does when there’s not enough data to predict an arrival time. But this is misleading because it implies that the bus is going to arrive at that specific time.

In other cases, TransitTracker would show an arrival countdown even though the bus trip had been canceled. After Due had come and gone, you’d wonder, “Did the bus just disappear?”

This is the phenomenon many riders know as “ghost buses.” And it’s particularly frustrating when you’ve been waiting at the stop for a while, only to find out your bus has… well, vanished!

Thankfully, our new bus dispatch system can identify canceled trips and pass that information along to TransitTracker. Now that we can flag those no-shows as “canceled,” there should be far fewer instances of ghost buses, and more reliable arrival information overall. (Note: This won’t get rid of all ghost buses, or any ghost trains for that matter. We expect to address those in future upgrades.)

This is a small but important improvement that we hope will make your life a little easier. We’d like your feedback, too. If you notice any issues with the new canceled-bus notices, or if you have any other comments about TransitTracker, please let us know at transittracker@trimet.org.

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Dave Whipple

I'm TriMet’s manager of marketing and rider communications. I oversee the agency's web and mobile initiatives and help build useful and usable online tools for riders. I also moonlight as a musician in my spare time.

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