Having lived in Ottawa the past four years, I’m no stranger to the frustration that can arise from relying on public transportation day after day.
You feel helpless not knowing whether your already late bus is just around the corner or stranded for an hour on a street side somewhere.
Which is why I was interested to hear Sarnia was planning to become one of 175 cities worldwide that uses Transit App.
Theoretically, at least, the phone app is supposed to give its users the real time location and arrival and departure times of buses.
I gave it a whirl last week, shortly after the system went live.
After downloading the app to an android or iPhone, you can input your start point and destination to find the nearest bus stop to you, as well as the time the next bus will depart.
The homepage shows all of Sarnia Transit’s routes, and a countdown in minutes of when the next bus will arrive at your stop. What’s more, the interactive map gave me the exact location of my chosen bus at that moment.
I decided to test it out on Route 9, the busy Exmouth Route, by getting on and off at several different places, including the Bayside Mall.
I found the app accurate at estimating my wait time, with each bus showing up within one minute of the estimate.
Once on the bus, it provided an estimated arrival time for my next destination. I found those estimates accurate as well. Should an unexpected delay occur, the app provides updates.
I found headphones handy for the voice alerts. The British narrator sounds like someone who breeds Corgis for the Royal family and owns horses worth more than my house.
On a cold and rainy day you could leave your phone in your pocket and let him guide you around Sarnia.
The app can be personalized with your favourite routes and custom alerts, such as a reminder telling you when to leave to catch the bus. It can even find you the location of the nearest Uber driver.
Find it by searching “Transit” in the app store or Google Play store. It’s a free download.
Last year was a good one for Sarnia Transit, which set an all-time record high of 1.28 million riders.
By adding Transit App, which I found useful and user-friendly, transit officials are clearly trying to make the experience of taking the bus in Sarnia an even easier one.
Jake Romphf is a Carleton University student and summer reporter for The Sarnia Journal