Thursday, January 05, 2017

Bus Report #952

NextBus bus predictions have been down for several days, and it makes for hard times planning my commute.
Back in the old days you could sort of predict when the bus was coming based on the schedules printed on the Muni bus stops. I still spent a lot of time standing around waiting, though.

Yesterday evening I had to guess when my bus was coming. I went out to wait around the same time as usual but there was no  one else at the stop. Oh well, I must have mis-timed things. A few minutes later, an almost empty bus pulled up and I got on. I wondered where everyone was. Had they just given up, watching NextBus flip from 1 minute to 10 minutes to 37 minutes?

At McAllister I waited with a handful of other people. NextBus was still offering predictions even though they were all mind-bogglingly incorrect.

5 Fulton in 9 and 59 minutes - which changed to 3 and 10, and then 10 and 79.
5R in 6 and 10 minutes - quickly flipping to 3 and 4 minutes, and then 4 and 27 minutes.

The 5 showed up 5 minutes later, packed incredibly tightly.

This morning I woke up and made my tea, pulled up NextBus to see if it was working again yet. Predictions still down - no buses predicted for my line, at all. The SFMTA Twitter was just as useless, the account apologizing for the outage and claiming to let us know when predictions were back up.

I walked down to the bus stop in the very, very cold darkness, and waited.
The bus was right on time.

Oddly, though, it was just as empty as the bus had been yesterday - I would say less than half as many people as usual.

I hoped the smiley man was able to get to work today, from all the way out by the zoo. I did not see him in the Castro, but wished him luck anyway.

4 Comments:

Blogger Randy said...

During my many visits to San Francisco (one which commences next month) I too have noted, at times, wild variations of predicted arrivals of Muni buses via the well, now I know that information system is called NextBus. Prior to my education on this matter, I just thought those red electronic signs at the Muni bus stations were just plain, unnamed electronic displays. Now I know.

Does the Muni offer riders the option of checking a given bus's whereabouts online, be the search be performed by a laptop, tablet or smartphone? Here on Oahu, our transit system (aka "TheBus") has an online system in place where one can determine the specific location of bus one wishes to ride. One merely keys in the assigned number of the bus stop one wishes to board a bus at, into "TheBus Hea" app online, (like my stop's number is 1266) and you will be told precisely when the bus will arrive at that stop. One can even watch the bus's progression to the stop on the map of the general area the bus is in that also pops up in the app. In all the times I've ridden a bus into downtown, I've never waited more than a minute for a bus's arrival. Very handy in the morning here, with the propensity of our early morning rains. When I see the bus I want to be on has arrived at a given point on the map, I just run out to the stop, and one minute later, there it is. Works quite well and eliminates almost completely that desire to get to a bus stop ten minutes early, just in (the rare) case a bus is actually early.

10:20 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

Sorry, Rachel. In rereading your post, I realize now that you were checking for updates from your home, using the Muni's online NextBus app and not relying on the bus station information displays.

5:03 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Hi, Randy, and happy new year!
Yes, NextBus is the system Muni uses to track buses. There are ways to do it online (nextbus.com, 511.org) and many apps (one specifically for NextBus (I think!), Swiftly (which I like), Routesy, etc.).

The problem comes when the system is down and there's no real time way to check arrivals/departures. If you are a nerd like me, take a look at sfmta twitter - https://twitter.com/sfmta_muni/with_replies and you'll see that for days they have been unable to provide any tracking info.

Every day problems with the system, in my opinion, are when GPS isn't tracking individual coaches or when the system is relying on schedule predictions instead of real time. It is hard for me to understand why we can't have a system based solely on GPS, and just have that work well.

In my experience some lines are more reliable than others and even when NextBus isn't working I can reliably figure out when buses are arriving.

7:53 AM  
Blogger solo roving said...

sounds hi-tech

except for the cbd/inner city routes, all our timetables are still a printed schedule on a pole (which half the time you can't read from the vandalism). in any case despite the lack of technology our system seems to operate the same as yours - ie all over the shop!!

7:08 PM  

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