These days, portable electronics like iPhones and iPods are common and very popular among transit riders. Not only we get to enjoy the music, we also get to watch downloaded TV shows or play games, all while we are on transit. The open application platform for iPhone and iPod Touch have spawned many transit related applications. Many of them target large transit systems like the New York Subway. A few also target BART and Caltrain.
Finally there's an app for local transit in Silicon Valley, the home of Apple, Google, and many other companies. The San Jose Transit application was created by Vashishtha Jogi, a graduate student in software engineering at San Jose State University. The program allows the users to browse all VTA bus and light rail schedules and spot the next scheduled trip. The program can also show the departure times for a selected route at a particular time point (which is something also posted at certain bus stops).
This application is a good alternative to carrying stacks of paper schedule, and it is more convenient than calling VTA for times. While other online tools like Google Transit and 511 are available, they all require users to type in the origin and destination each time and therefore are inconvenient for long time transit riders, who usually know the system better than any automated trip planners.
This program works offline, which is useful for iPod Touch (basically an iPhone without the phone and AT&T service charge) owners in areas without a wifi connection.
The application costs 99 cents at the iTunes site. The author said that he will update the program for the upcoming schedule changes. Lets hope this program will get improved and have additional features added overtime.
Highway 17 Express fare increase
Santa Cruz Metro has scheduled a public hearing on a proposed fare increase for the Highway 17 Express route. While the detail has yet to be known, one of the reasons for increasing the fare is to maintain an "optimal" farebox recovery ratio. [update: Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that Santa Cruz Metro plans to raise fares by 25%. One way from $4 to $5, and monthly pass from $90 to $113. However, the agency doesn't seem to be in any financial danger that poses immediate risk to the service.]
Highway 17 Express fares have not changed since 2004, when it was combined with the Amtrak Thruway service. However this route continues to generate a much higher farebox recovery ratio than most transit routes.
Hearing date and location: Santa Cruz City Council Chambers, 809 Center Street, Santa Cruz, at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, March 26, 2010
VTA is currently installing Translink/Clipper readers on its buses (as shown in the picture, which is located next to the farebox under the black plastic wrap. A VTA Watch reader has reported that he saw an unwrap reader installed and appeared operational, but didn't want to test it to see whether the reader was actually working.