Transit-users who chose to go Android over iPhone will be happy to learn of the free new app “Winnipeg Bus Live” created by Winnipegger Ryan Ramchandar. The app allows Android users to track their busses in real-time.
“The purpose of the app is to provide real-time bus schedules for bus stops near your location. Traditional transit schedules are static in that they do not account for traffic, weather or any other delays that can cause a bus to be off-schedule,” said Ramchandar in an interview with the Manitoban.
Ramchandar is a 2010 graduate of the University of Manitoba’s computer engineering program, and has independently designed and released the Android-centric app. He went on to say: “Using the data provided by Winnipeg Transit’s recently released Open API, bus arrival times can be predicted to within a few minutes. Think of it as having one of those digital bus schedule signs from busy stops at every stop, except on your [Android].”
Ramchandar’s app has been available for free download by Winnipeg residents for around four-months now, and has just recently — quietly — hit 1,000 downloads. “The growth has been pretty amazing for an app only meant for Winnipeg. I get many emails from users telling me how useful they find the app,” remarked Ramchandar.
For university students with Androids, especially for those who have a long trek to their bus stops from home, icily clutching with fists coarsened by the winter cold, the app may prove invaluable. “One user said he uses the app to time when he should emerge from his building to walk to the bus stop, which he says is useful in the cold,” Ramchandar said.
He explained how it works: “Using your phone’s location, with the user’s permission, the app queries the Winnipeg Transit servers to list all the stops within a 500 metre radius of your location.
“When the user clicks on a bus stop, again a query is sent to the Winnipeg Transit servers returning a real-time bus schedule for that stop. Winnipeg Transit says that GPS data is sent from busses to their servers whenever a schedule deviation is detected, giving them a real-time overview of the transit system.”
Although there is already an app similar to Ramchandar’s for the iPhone, his is the first program of its kind for Android smart phones. According to Ramchandar: “The smart phone market is essentially split between iPhone and Android devices.”
Ramchandar went on to say: “It was recently announced by Google in their [first quarter] earnings call that there are over 250 million Android phones worldwide, with a growth rate of 700,000 new unique activations per day. Also, the Android Market just announced their 11 billionth download.”
Those numbers could spell a future for Ramchandar in the app engineering world. It all depends on how well “Winnipeg Bus Live” is received by the guinea pig Winnipeg public. For the time being, Android app development is “just a hobby of mine,” remarked Ramchandar, “but I’m definitely interested in continuing to develop smart phone apps.”
When asked about plans of charging for the app and marketing it elsewhere, Ramchandar noted that he “may release similar transit apps in other cities that provide real-time transit data at a small one time fee, but in Winnipeg it will always remain free.”
If you rely on both Winnipeg Transit and an Android smart phone to function, you can download Ryan Ramchandar’s app at market.android.com.
This article originally stated that Ramchandar graduated from computer science. We corrected it to say he graduated from computer engineering.