With media coverage tapering off, we’re excited to see a steady trickle of comments coming in from bus stops around the region. With about three weeks behind us, it seems like a good time to check in with what we’re seeing in trends and to talk a little about next steps for the service.
We see a lot of comments about bus service. There are stops that see chronically late busses and in general, wishes for more coverage for certain lines. It’s not hard to believe that given a chance, people ask for more of a constrained resource, so that in itself isn’t so surprising.
The second most common need expressed is for garbage cans at stops that don’t have any, and less often but still common complaints about litter at stops. People like things a bit tidy, and we can’t blame them for that either.
Beyond that the trends get more diverse. We’re happy to say that people are in small doses reaching out to each other, offering advice, saying they saw a cute person, and even asking if anyone else is around at the stop to make a wait a bit less lonely. Others are pointing out their favourite nearby businesses or waiting spots, and we’ve even seen some small local businesses invite riders to take a few steps and visit them. We think that’s great, and any business near a bus stop is more than welcome to make friendly offers to riders on the stops near them.
As you can see on the map, most comments come from inside Vancouver proper. We hope that our stickering efforts bring in more voices from the more outlying areas, as they often have longer wait times an can tune us into what’s going on in those often-overlooked spots.
We continue to see very few problems with vulgarity and spam. We don’t mind the swears, but have been relieved to find only two comments that we felt compelled to hide out of hundreds. People complain a bit about other riders but the majority are friendly and cheerful, and enthusiastic about the neighbourhoods they post from.
We’re mostly seeing iPhones, which is not a big surprise, but also a lot of iPads which is surprising as the experience on the iPad is a bit broken. After that we see a handful of different Android devices from Samsung and HTC, and a surprising number of visits from Sony Ericsson devices which we had kind of written off.
We still haven’t shut out desktop browsers and find mobile traffic is trending to overtake desktop. Aside from quirks we didn’t bother to fix on desktop browsers, we hope that means the service is proving more useful at the stop, as designed (whew!). That’s a big signal for us and aside from the kinds of comments a big validator of what we’ve done so far.
There have been some interesting and thoughtful feature requests, and we are listening to them but being careful about how we evolve the service.
We think a key part in the positive reception is the focus on revealing the otherwise hidden knowledge that people have about the areas they use around stops, and in framing the service as a gift to Vancouver. We want to stay close to that mission, so the features most on our minds are those that build in that direction rather than trying to layer utilities that already exist by other means. In other words, we want to make changes, but primarily don’t want to break what has been good so far.
In the next few weeks we’ll have a release that fixes a few bugs and tries to round out further the feeling of a community around our transit stops.
We continue to hope that people in other cities will grab the open-source code and adapt it for their own region, and are happy to talk to anyone interested in doing so. We can’t promise help in every case, but we have open minds and easy to reach inboxes.
We’ll be putting up more stickers as we have time to, and really appreciate that people have been asking for sticker packs to decorate their own local stops. Scott in Point Grey and Rachael around the Commercial Drive area have been especially generous with their time and effort, and we want to note our gratitude here. If you want to get some stickers to put up, just drop us a line.
We’ll do some monthly posts for the next while to recap what’s happening in the service and to make new features known, but will start posting notable comments with links to the stops via our @thisisourstop Twitter account. Follow us there to tune into the dispatches from around our region that make us smile.