Finding your way through Boulder by bus can be a daunting task for anybody.
One University of Colorado student is trying to change that.
Junior Zack Shapiro is the designer of an iPhone and iPod Touch application that he thinks will make the RTD bus system more accessible. The application, called Beeline RTD, lists bus times, routes and stops for all of RTD’s lines, including the Buff Bus. It has a map function that plots out routes and stops. It also finds the stops closest to you. In addition to providing information on the buses, the app receives RTD and GO Boulder news and updates, and lets users give feedback that is fed directly to RTD.
“I want to break down the barrier and the friction between the commuter and the bus,” says Shapiro, a journalism media studies major. “If you’ve never ridden the bus, you’ve got to find a stop, find the right bus, and you’ve got to find schedules. This app presents it really cleanly and effectively.
RTD’s website is a nightmare. This app is fast, easy information in exactly the way you expect it, so you don’t need to learn how to use the app. It’s all intuitive.”
Shapiro also says he hopes the app will encourage people to save paper by not printing out bus schedules or maps every time they decide to catch the bus.
Shapiro says the idea for the app, which is the second he has released through an application company he started in April called 59thirty, came from a computer science project he did two years ago when he created an application called RTD Bus Times. As an out-of-state student from Baltimore with no car, he often rode the bus.
“The buses I took the most were the AB and the B, and I thought, ‘What if I put those schedules in your pocket?’” Shapiro says. “So it was originally designed for out-of-state freshmen at CU.”
That first app saw more than 1,200 purchases through the Apple app store, but Shapiro noticed a lot of comments asking him to expand the app beyond the AB and B lines.
“People kept asking me, ‘Where’s my bus? Where’s the Skip? Where’s the Bound? Where’s the 209?’ I internalized all the feedback and used that to create Beeline.”
He began working on Beeline RTD in October 2009, and it went into development in May. The application is currently available for iPhones and for the iPod Touch, and will become available for the iPad later this year. Shapiro says the app has received great reviews in the Apple App Store, where Beeline RTD is available for $2.99 in the navigation section.
“We have a couple of reviews in the app store about how people who were never bus riders before have downloaded this and used it to ride the bus for the first time to work or school,” Shapiro says. “Some people have cool stories about how it makes the buses more accessible, and they’ve recommended it to co-workers.”
While Shapiro says he hopes to create more applications through his company, he is currently focused on improving and marketing Beeline RTD. He is still planning to add features, including arrival times and showing where bus lines overlap to make transfers easier.
Ultimately, Shapiro hopes his application will encourage people to ride the bus to make their lives easier and help the environment.
“Ideally what I would like everyone to do is take the bus more often,” Shapiro says. “If you’re just heading down Broadway — you live on the Hill and you’re headed to Pearl Street — catch the Skip, don’t ride in your car. Don’t drive to Denver; spend the extra 20 minutes and take the bus. To do your little part is a big thing, and I hope Beeline can be the bridge between people and their little part.”