Self-taught Ottawa developer releases retro bus schedule app

'It doesn’t have maps. It doesn’t have route suggestions. It’s ... as useless as the old screens'

Bus app
Bus app

Anyone nostalgic for the OC Transpo of old can get a retro feel with a locally developed app that will have many remembering waiting for a cold bus with only a screen to give warmth.

Eric Chiz, a self-taught developer recently launched an app that gives people information on OC Transpo bus arrivals, but displays the information exactly like the old television screens in Transitway stops.

The screens had simple information about the next arrival for bus routes based on schedules. The city has rolled out newer versions that are clearer and carry more information.

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Chiz said he got the idea when he saw someone complaining online about one of the old signs that had fallen into disrepair in a transit stop.  

“It was dirty. It was obscured and you couldn’t read a thing on it and they said this is not terribly useful,” he said.

Chiz’s app uses open data from the city to display bus arrivals in the same format as the old signs. He said you can input any transit station or stop and get the information exactly as it looked on the old screens. 

“You would get all of the buses that go to St. Laurent and all of their upcoming times, just as the screens at St. Laurent would if they were working today.”

He said some of the other transit apps in the city offer data differently, but he wanted to recreate the old screens.

“It doesn’t have maps. It’s doesn’t have route suggestions,” he said. “It’s as useful and as useless as the old screens.”

A lifelong transit user, Chiz said he just wanted to bring back something that helped many people get around back in the day.

“I have taken transit all my life. I suppose that’s why I am willing to do this,” he said. “I got very used to taking transit and trying to navigate the city with OC Transpo.”

This story originally appeared in Metro News.

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