PRTC introduced two online improvements for passengers: a redesigned website and the inclusion of PRTC bus information on Google Transit.
With Google Transit, anyone who searches for directions in our area and selects the public transportation option now can see PRTC bus route information. As part of this collaboration, PRTC integrated Google Transit as the trip planning tool on its redesigned website. Those interested in using PRTC’s schedule data to develop apps can find the information at PRTCtransit.org on the Tools for Developers page.
Using Google Transit, riders can plan a trip based on using public transportation, driving, walking and/or biking. And because Google Transit includes data from other regional transit providers, it’s easy to plan trips that include transfers to Metrorail or Fairfax Connector, for example. Users also can plan long-distance trips.
“Having PRTC bus information included on Google Transit is a useful tool for both seasoned and occasional riders,” said PRTC Executive Director Alfred Harf. “By making transit services more comprehensible, Google Transit becomes a catalyst for convincing those who don’t regularly use public transportation to give it a try.”
The trip planner can be found in the new Rider Tools section of PRTC’s website, which also features ways to search for bus routes and nearby bus stops. Also new to the website are: a Frequently Asked Questions page that will act as an online Customer Service Agent to answer many routine questions; and a customizable section that permits regular users to tailor the information they see to the items most relevant to them. The PRTC website was last updated in 2008 and is now more user-friendly for those using mobile devices.
These improvements are just the latest efforts to enhance the PRTC customer experience. In November 2013, a new Rider Express email and text message notification system was launched to keep subscribers informed about events that could affect their daily commutes such as inclement weather, detours and missed bus stops.
In the future, the Rider Express system will enable passengers to see real-time data so they can more efficiently plan trips and know exactly when the bus will arrive. PRTC anticipates that real-time data features will be available in 2015.