Almost five months after the initial launch of Ride DC, the District of Columbia Department of Transportation launched its anticipated Ride DC Trip Planner on Google Play.
Unveiled in December, Ride DC’s large screen display combines multiple real-time transit options on the same neighborhood map and provides arrival information for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Metrorail and Metrobus systems. The display also shows arrival information for DDOT’s Circulator buses, and the availability of Capital Bikeshare bicycles and Car2Go vehicles.
According to DDOT Chief Information Officer Jose Colon, the decision to launch the desktop- and television-ready display platform before a mobile application was not an accident.
“The first initiative was to develop a dashboard portal for the public to create their own transit screen,” Colon told the Washington Post. “They’re able to display it on a large monitor at their facility. This could be a school, an apartment building, any retail establishment.”
Now the information is also contained in the Ride DC Trip Planner, which is available now on the Google Play store. According to Colon, an iPhone version is coming soon.
“We knew that once we deployed the dashboard, the first thing people were going to say is, ‘This is really nice, but what do you have for mobile devices or tablets?'”
Another reason for the delayed mobile availability was due to the district’s official rollout of its mobile-phone-enabled bus tracking system for the Circulator buses, which StateScoop reported earlier this year. Though, in addition to more accurate Circulator data, the new Ride DC Trip Planner also promises more frequent bus movement updates than NextBus, the service that currently tracks local buses.
“At first, with Metrobuses in particular, it took a lot of coordination,” Colon said. “But other than that, I think everything else was readily available to us. So that wasn’t a challenge.”
Work is not done on Ride DC, though, Colon said. According to the CIO, the application doesn’t display well on tablets and doesn’t rotate from portrait to landscape mode. Metrorail service alerts and the ability to hide the map and only see the data are also coming.
“If the Red Line is single tracking, we’ll be able to display that as well,” Colon said.
The Ride DC portals could soon make their way to tourist attractions around town. According to Colon, the department has opened a dialogue with the Smithsonian museum representatives around town and is also working with the District’s public library system to install Ride DC monitors.