It may be a constant adventure to navigate the unique chaos that is Seattle transit, but at least we live in a tech-savvy city with plenty of app developers to help us out.
There’s your basic trip mappers, apps like Google maps and HopStop, that will help you figure out just which bus you need to find. Locally there’s Metro’s very own online trip planner, but it’s slow, difficult, and lacks the ease of use found in other options.
But as any regular commuter knows, there’s nothing that beats the real-time update apps when searching for a bus. Seattle is host to a handful of real-update apps that tell users when exactly their bus will leave the stop. OneBusAway made it popular, but WhichBus is the new app on the block vying for the gold.
What WhichBus has going for it is the combination of a map app with the real-time information of OneBusAway. Simply type in locations for where you are and where you want to be, then let WhichBus map it out. It can tell you if the bus is running on time, and get you as close to your destination as possible—it even lets you walk down alleys.
Seriously, it gets you so close it’s practically impossible to miss. After comparing trips and trying to figure out why WhichBus was making me transfer, I realized it’s because it was all but dropping me off on the doorstep of my destination. Even if an alternative route would be faster, but require more walking.
Like most Seattleites that have been riding the bus since they were just young tykes that couldn’t get a ride, more often than not I already know the best routes for me to get where I’m going. I just need to know when they’ll actually show up, and I need to know it fast.
At least on an Android phone, the app seemed to take a long time to load. WhichBus only publicly launched at the beginning of the year, and has only been available to Android since May 5, so it hasn’t had time to sort out issues in the same way OneBusAway has. And it’s got some kinks to work out, between loading lag and figuring out what actually is the best route.
If you’re familiar enough with the bus system you probably won’t need WhichBus on a daily basis—there’s less hassle with OneBusAway for everyday commutes. Someday WhichBus might be ready, but for now it’s got some buffering to do.