Tag Archives: Google Maps

translink real-time bus tracking on your smartphone (vancouver)

1 Nov

When I was an Android user, my favourite app was Google Maps. I like to know where I am and what’s nearby. I also liked the Google Maps app for the integrated bus schedules for Vancouver. If you zoom in close enough to where the stop / station should be, you can click on the bus icon for the next bus arrival times. Very handy.

When I switched to the iPhone, I was so disappointed that Google Maps for iOS does not support public transportation integration. I don’t have a car and rely on public transportation for pretty much everything. I tried looking for apps on the App Store that could give me bus schedules but most of the apps were buggy or not rated very highly. I used to save bus stop numbers on my phone as presets but I don’t know how to do that on the iPhone. I know there had to be a more techie way to get bus schedules.

After some internet research, I found out that Translink has a mobile site that offers some features that I think are far better than any feature a third-party App could offer. You know back in the day when you used to say “Gee, I wish buses had GPS on them so I would know exactly when and where they are?” It’s here and it’s pretty good.

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On your mobile device (or computer web browser), go to www.m.translink.ca for links to Next Bus, Trip Planner, Favourites, Schedules, Fares, Alerts, and more. The bus tracking feature is found under Next Bus. Type in your most used bus stop number (or find it with the Find your Stop button) and select “Map View.” It will show you the bus stop with several next bus times. If you zoom out, it will show you the location of buses for that particular stop. While in this mode, you can select other bus stops indicated by the “T” and it will show you bus times and bus locations for that stop.

For example, if I select the bus stop at UBC loop for the outgoing 99 B Line, I will see the times and the locations of buses leaving UBC. If I select the bus stop at Granville and Broadway for the westbound 14/16/17, I will see all of the west bound buses on that route.

For easy access to the site, I’ve bookmarked my most used bus stop and refer to that link for whatever bus I am looking for by zooming in and out. I suppose you could  also create separate bookmarks for every bus stop you use.

The accuracy of the bus locations is pretty good and shows real-time locations, not expected locations. It’s updated every 30 seconds -45 seconds it appears. Last week, I was on the 16 Arbutus and hoping to connect with the 33 UBC. Using the app, I could see that I would make it in time to connect. This is important at night-time or in the morning when the buses come in packs or arrive way ahead of schedule. Highly recommend this app for those in the suburbs where buses are known to come up 20 minutes early / late.