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Montreal’s Transit app turns to crowdsourcing to improve its accuracy

Montreal's Transit app

Montreal's Transit app The developer of Montreal’s transit app, known as Transit and previously known as Transit App, is looking to alleviate the stress that comes with taking city transit by using crowdsourced data for its app.

Since its 2012 release Transit has folded a wide variety of transit options into a simple “Point A to Point B” interface, including help for rideshare car services, bike share stations, and public transit such as buses and subways. It is available in more than 125 cities in 9 countries.

Although Montreal’s Transit app itself has been around since 2012, the company is now tired of getting bad reviews because of inaccurate information that is being provided to it by the transit companies. These bad reviews aren’t specific to Transit, of course, as other apps such as Google Maps and official city transit apps have to deal with the same problem.

Since some people like to complain about the inaccuracy of data, the same people will now be providing the data with the Transit 4.0 update and the GO feature that came with it; Instead of waiting for the transit companies to improve it themselves. Crowdsourced data will first be introduced in Montreal and Victoria, BC but Transit says they have plans to expand to Chicago, NYC, SF, Boston, LA, London, Paris, Rome, Toronto, and many other locations.

Crowdsourcing data will bring real-time updates on where your bus is, and its estimated time of arrival even in places where there is no real-time information provided by transit companies such as Victoria and Montreal. In places where companies already provide real-time information, it usually gets to you after a 5~ minute delay and is most times not dependable.

But what if not enough people are using the app how is the data supposed to update? Transit has that covered.

Transit has a feature called “GO” which tells you when you need to leave your house to arrive at your transit pickup location, and while you’re on transit it sends your location to the servers which then provides accurate information to other users, and even provides predictions of when you will reach destinations. So, all it takes is one person on each transit vehicle to provide information for the whole network and since the app runs in the background, all you need do is just have the app on your phone.

“GO” also lets you know how many people you are providing information to so you can feed your narcissism, and when you try to turn off live updates while you’re on route it will be sure to let you know how many people you’re disappointing down the line.

Transit is also the most widely used public transportation tracking app, so you presumably wont need to worry about it not having enough of a crowd to crowdsource, because the crowd is already gathered.

Transit has chosen Victoria and Montreal as its starting locations due to the concentration of app users in those areas. Victoria has roughly 7000 of the 35,000 unique users who open the app daily. Since Montreal is the birthplace of Transit there is already have a decent number of users in the city (which is the largest city in North America that does not provide real time transit information).

“Trust us: we know crowdsourcing real-time transit data is hard — and we know a chest-thumping blog post won’t change that. But we feel we’ve put together a solid recipe: a killer navigation feature that enables passive crowdsourcing, a thoughtfully designed experience that incentivizes altruism, and millions and millions of active users in concentrated locations.” says Transit in a blog post on Medium.

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