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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

BART and Web 2.0


Sorry, I couldn't resist this photo from my
1992 campaign for BART Board Director.


I've been working on my TRB paper about the use of Web 2.0 applications in transportation and recently checked the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) website, and I have to say BART has done quite a good job.

First, the BART website provides all the information you need to use the system (schedule, station information, fares, etc.), so the basics are covered, but what I was interested in was how they are using Web 2.0 features.

I had read about BART's open policy for providing schedule data to outside developers and, there it was under schedules: a link to a page called BART developer resources describing how outside developers could use BART data to create applications. BART also has a page listing some of the applications developed by 3rd parties using this information.

I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I learned about BART's work in this area in a report by Patrick Gendre and Didier Danflous from CETE Mediterranee called "User participation in Public Transportation and Multimodal Information". The report is only available in French right now but I am working on translating it (in all my spare time!). Their report focuses on important issues with data availability. They believe that all public agencies need to recognize that Web 2.0 applications from outside the organization are coming (like it or not) and recommend that public agencies embrace this change.

Back to BART ... their website also enables people to submit photos to BART for use on their webpage, facebook and twitter pages. The photos are selected by BART, so it's not totally consistent with Web 2.0 openness, but a nice effort. Also it's refreshing to find a public transport operator that encourages people to take photos (safely!) rather than one that considers everyone taking photos to be terrorists.

All in all I think BART has done a good job with their webpage and think other public transport operators could learn a great deal from it.

I am still working on my Web 2.0 in Transport paper, so if you have any ideas or other websites for me to check out, add them in the comments!

2 comments:

GMM said...

You might want to include something about this:
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/ny_transportation_authority_cites_schedules_as_cop.php

Basically the opposite of BART's approach.

Andy Nash said...

It seems that many government agencies are worried about sharing their data. That's exactly the wrong approach for Web 2.0 ... see my latest post on my Web 2.0 for transportation planning paper.