Driving around with car2go

About a month ago, I signed up for a car2go account.  So far I’ve used it twice already and I’ve been pretty happy with the experience.

Why car2go?

  1. In the case I miss the last SkyTrain home, the car2go would be a cheaper option than taking a taxi, and more time-efficient than waiting for the Night Bus.  (It’s roughly $10 for a 20-minute car2go trip from downtown to Richmond, versus a $35 taxi ride.  The earliest Night Bus gets me home around 3am).
  2. I share cars with my parents, so in the rare case that they need the cars, I wanted to have a backup just in case.  Since there’s no significant monthly fee, it would not hurt to keep the account just for the times that I need to use it. (There is a $2 annual fee though, but that’s pretty reasonable).
  3. It’s the only car-sharing service to service Richmond (albeit only at Kwantlen University, but I live close by).
  4. car2go does not require you to return the car to its original location—it’s a one-way service, which is perfect for my night-time trips.

Coming from driving 20+ year old minivans, the Smart car was comparatively very zippy, and reminded me of driving a go-kart.  The accelerating and braking were quite sensitive, but that was not too difficult to get used to.

In case you’re interested in joining, if you get a referral code from someone you know, you can signup for free.  (Send me a direct message on Twitter @DennisTT if you don’t know anyone with car2go).

Post-summer update

I can’t believe it’s September already.  The weather is starting to become cool and wet, days are becoming shorter, marking the end of what has been an incredible summer (and year to date).  It’s been a while since I’ve written here, so with the changing season I thought I’d share a bit of an update of 2016 so far.

Some of these warrant their own blog posts, but until I have time to write the full thing here is a summary. Continue reading “Post-summer update”

Side Project 1: Real Time Bus Map in Vancouver

Since TransLink released their new mobile Next Bus site with real-time GPS updates of bus locations, I’ve been trying to find ways to get the data and rehash it into something that  Metro Vancouver transit enthusiasts (more specifically, enthusiasts who chase buses and monitor the transit system’s operation) will find useful.

There were two main shortcomings of TransLink’s site from the viewpoint of a transit enthusiast:

  1. Can’t search for a specific bus.  Often times transit enthusiasts “chase” a particular bus, usually a new bus, a fresh bus after a midlife refurbishment, or a bus with a new advertisement wrap.
  2. Can’t see the entire system as a whole.  This one’s pretty self explanatory.  It’s just fun to be able to see where all the buses are.

So I created a system which gleaned information from the TransLink site and aggregated it into a useful interface which I called “T-Comm”.

This is named after CMBC’s Transit Communications centre which has an interface similar to what I created.  Using the information I was also able to add additional functionality like grabbing the bus’s schedule for the current trip and even the entire day.

Since most transit enthusiasts would be using this on the go, I knew I had to make this site mobile-friendly. The enthusiasts I knew used a myriad of mobile devices including Blackberries, iPhones, and Androids, so it would not have made sense for me to create a native app for each of the platforms; it would have killed me in terms of time and energy.  I chose to use jQuery Mobile and Google Maps API as the basis of the frontend.  The backend is powered by PHP/MySQL. I was amazed at the ease I was able to make something mobile-friendly using jQuery Mobile.  It was actually fun too.  More importantly testers reported positively on their mobile devices.

I’m hoping that TransLink will release the GPS data officially for developers.  They’ve said after April 2012 on Twitter, so I’m crossing my fingers.

Contact me if you would like access to the site.  Since the current site hammers TransLink’s servers I’m trying to tread lightly.  Once official GPS data is used I will open it to the public, but I don’t really see this being used by the public as it is quite enthusiast-oriented.

Update: The site has been updated to use TransLink’s official data feed for real time bus data, so here’s the link: http://tcomm.bustrainferry.com.  More info on this site can be found on my T-Comm project info page.

The wheels on the bus go round and round…

On September 2, 2006, a crowd of people watched as the buses whose home had been the Oakridge Transit Centre for the past years made their way to the new multi-million-dollar state-of-the-art garage called Vancouver Transit Centre. Many of the buses leading the parade were retired buses restored by The Transit Museum Society (TRAMS).
2102 V1109 Bus Parade to VTC 2860 3334 V1109 V1109 3405 4612 3405 2040 2040

I also took 3 video clips: