New app promises to be a game-changer for buses
January 27, 2015
Take the bus! It’s always free, you don’t have to drive, don’t have to park and you’ll pollute our mountain air a little less.
That’s the message Park City tries to communicate to both its residents and its visitors year-round. And it’s a message that’s never more important than when the Sundance Film Festival is in town.
This winter, the city has fully launched a smartphone transit tool to make riding the bus as easy as possible. It has launched an app called myStop for Apple phones and a website (go.parkcity.org) for Android users and everyone else.
The app and website are very similar and no login or registration is required to use them.
What are the tools you can use? Routes, stops, schedules, a trip-planning tool and rider alerts. And, best of all, real-time bus tracking.
Bus tracking means you can select the route you want to take and see exactly where the busses on your route are. You’ll know that the map is updating in real time when the little bus icons hop along their routes. It’s an especially useful tool during busy times (such as Sundance) when traffic may be throwing buses off their schedules.
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Blake Fonnesbeck, public works director at Park City Municipal, says the transit tools have been working very well.
"As I’ve been riding the bus and listening to people talk, they’ve been talking about the app and how simple it is and how easy it is to find their way around. I think a lot of people are enjoying the fact that you can just kind of look and say ‘alright, the bus is a couple minutes away, I better walk out to the stop now.’"
To view current bus locations, just select your bus line from the available routes on go.parkcity.org and then click on the map. Your route should be highlighted, with each stop indicated. Buses are marked with their own little bus icons. You should be able to zoom in and out and pan around like you would with any other map on your phone.
Among the app/website features is a running passenger tally — click on a bus icon and it will tell you exactly how many people are on the bus at that time.
"I used it quite a bit this past week when crowds were really heavy," Fonnesbeck said. "So I was able to say ‘oh I think I’ll wait for this next one,’ or ‘that’s the one I want to get on because there’s still room.’"
The new transit tools will change the way you ride the bus, he said.
"You used to sit and wonder ‘did I miss the bus?’ Or ‘do I have to go out 10 minutes early just in case?’ Now you can really watch and say ‘OK it’s coming around this corner.’"
"I plan better and you just don’t feel like you’re wasting as much time waiting and wondering," he said. "And with the Apple app, you can actually set up email alerts where if there’s a bus you’re wanting every morning to ride, you can tell it to text you 15 minutes before [it arrives]."
As for the accuracy of the bus locations, Fonnesbeck says "it’s pretty spot-on."
Park City’s public-transit tool is available on the App Store for Apple phone users (search for the "myStop" app) and at the website go.parkcity.org for Android or any other type of device, tablet or computer. The buses in Park City are free to ride.