Widget Wednesdays episode 4: Grand River Transit (GRT)

Previous posts have talked about the Student Portal and several widgets, including Portal Now, Routes, Parking, and Food. Today we continue the series with a look at the Grand River Transit (GRT) widget. Please note that the portal is under development and these designs are subject to change over future iterations.

This GRT widget will support anyone who gets around on public transit. At the moment, the widget only uses the public GRT General Transit Specification (GTFS) data available from the Region of Waterloo. We have all bus schedule and stop information, which is a great start.

The widget allows you to search for bus stops by their number, see the next few trips for each route to a stop, and save your favourite stops for quick access. Simple, useful, and completely standard as far as public transit widgets go.

GRT Widget showing 'Search Stops' function.            GRT Widget showing Stop results.

However, this widget has a lot of room to grow, especially given everything else we know about the student using it. For example, what if this widget could tell them…

  • Which bus would get them to class on time?
  • Where the nearest bus stop is from their current location?
  • Which buses are leaving when their last class of the day ends?

What everyone really wants, though, is real-time information on bus times. Many other cities have that kind of data using Nextbus technology. In August 2013, the Region announced on Twitter that they were entering a testing phase for this, but it has been stalled out. So this feature will have to wait for now.

What do you want to see from a GRT widget? We’d love to hear from you!

Thank you to our portal team for this week’s guest post.

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