Bus Detective is the first locally-made mobile app to provide real-time arrival data for Cincinnati Metro buses. It’s free for Android, iOS or as a web app, so commuters can find out when their bus is coming while they’re on the go.
The app was named “Best Software Product” in the Cincinnati Business Courier 2016 Innovation and Technology Awards.
Happy Users, Happy Stats
Average user session
Pages per user session
Daily user sessions
On the Move: Memorable Branding + User-Friendly Design
From the name to the logo, Bus Detective’s fun and memorable brand helped it earn fans fast—more than 1,000 daily user sessions in the first few months. The primary logo doubles as a mascot while secondary marks serve as phone screen icons, website headers and more. A friendly color palette welcomes users and gives a nod to the Cincinnati Metro brand.
The app itself allows commuters to track approaching buses by viewing up-to-the-minute arrival times along with minute-by-minute countdowns of every bus headed for their stop in the next hour. A few of the user-friendly design features:
Under the Hood: Real-Time Data, Anywhere
Bus Detective uses open data provided by Cincinnati Metro to retrieve scheduled data and real-time updates. To put transit schedules on Google Maps, Google developed a standard called the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) that allowed us to take a standards-based approach to processing the data. When real-time data is not available, Bus Detective is resilient and falls back to using scheduled data to give users the best experience.
Initially, we wrote Bus Detective as a browser-only application, but it quickly became obvious that mobile is a must for a commuting app. To create mobile apps from our existing system, we used Cordova, an open-source framework, to wrap our web app and create iPhone and Android apps with the same code base. This approach allowed us to increase our flexibility (changes only need to be made in one framework) and significantly reduce the amount of development time compared to building two native apps.