Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Straits Times picks up story on bus arrival times roadblock

The Straits Times, 24 May 2011
Looks like The Straits Times has picked up the story of Comfort Delgro blocking access to bus arrival times (naturally without crediting iMerlion for breaking the story...)

A couple of juicy nuggets from the piece:
1) SBS Transit senior vice president of corporate communications, Tammy Tan, defended the company's roadblock saying: "This (unauthorised access to data) could result in wrong information being released to end-users which is something we will not be able to control. The introduction of captcha is to prevent unauthorised re-use of proprietary information."
2) Dr Lim Wee Kiak, MP for Nee Soon GRC and the chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee suggested that dissatisfied commuters should write to the Land Transport Authority or the Public Transport Council.
Dr Lim has suggested that should be one unifying app that can access public-transport information, regardless of transport operator. That's one way to do it. The other way is to simply put the information out there freely and let developers provide services around it.

Before Comfort Delgro put up the roadblock, there were lots of apps providing bus times. Developers then competed with each other to provide the best app, as SG Buses developer Muh Hon Cheng noted in the story.

Perhaps Comfort Delgro and SMRT could take a leaf from New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority, the body that manages the subways and buses in that city. It has a policy that is captured in an ad that the MTA has been running in subway trains since the beginning of the year. The ad copy goes:

"Instead of developing transit apps ourselves, we gave our info to the people who do it best. Search the web for “NY transit apps” to see what we mean."

For those interested in taking up Dr Lim's suggestion, you can leave feedback for the LTA here or send the PTC an email.

(Thanks to iMerlion reader Richard A. for bringing the MTA ad to my notice.)

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