For RTC, an Appealing Advance

I have only one real complaint about RTC Ride Tracker, the real-time scheduling app that recently debuted on RTC’s website ( I wish they hadn’t waited until the end of summer to produce it. If over the course of this long, hot summer I’d had access to a smartphone app that told me the exact arrival time of every RTC bus, I wouldn’t have this ridiculous farmer’s tan or this gently seared brain tissue. That aside, it’s a solid win for both the transit agency and those who use it.

Using the app is simple: Just bookmark in your smartphone’s browser, and the mobile site will appear automatically. RTC Ride Tracker uses GPS and “predictive scheduling” to determine a bus’ arrival time. The mobile site is built on Google Maps, and it presents the buses in their exact positions on the streets. You can refresh the site to watch them “move.” I would have been thrilled with an app that simply produces updated arrival times, but actually seeing your bus on the map and knowing that it’s two blocks away is pretty damn cool.

RTC built the mobile site in-house, and they should be proud. In an era when apps are farmed out to design firms who charge premium fees to deliver them, Ride Tracker is something of a miracle, and it could just change your mind about taking the bus to First Friday. On the occasions I’ve used it, Ride Tracker has been accurate to within a minute. Next on my wish list: an app to tell me where the hell my cab is.