Notice of Transitinfo.org change to updates

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Oct 31, 2003, 8:08:48 PM10/31/03
to
The following message was sent via email to registered transitinfo.org
users:

On this Monday, November 3rd, the www.transitinfo.org website is
scheduled to relocate to 511.org (which will include a link to
the new 511 Transit website). The new website will continue to
offer details about Bay Area transit schedules, routes, fares,
maps, and other currently offered information, but with an
updated look and feel, and some new user features.

As part of this website upgrade, the process for receiving email
notifications about Bay Area transit service updates for which
you have registered will also be changing.

EFFECTIVE NOVEMBER 3RD, 2003, THE EMAIL UPDATE NOTIFICATIONS FOR
WHICH YOU ARE REGISTERED WILL BE TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED. In the
future, this email update feature will be incorporated into a
section of the new website called "My Transit Page", which is
currently under development.

When the "My Transit Page" feature does becomes available, those
of you interested in continuing the email update notification
service will need to register through that section of the new
website to continue the service.

We do not yet have an exact date for the rollout of the "My
Transit Page" section, but will be working to complete it as soon
as possible. Please check our new website in the coming weeks for
announcements about a target date for launch of the "My Transit
Page" section and email update notification feature.

Therefore, effective November 3rd, 2003, the notifications posted to
this newsgroup will also be suspended. When the "My Transit Page"
feature described above does becomes available, a message indicating so
will be posted to this newsgroup. Also, at a future date, direct
posting to this newsgroup feature may be resumed.

Thank you for your patience during our transition period.


MTC Regional Transit Information project

Hank Fung

unread,
Oct 31, 2003, 11:48:58 PM10/31/03
to
In article <announce-FCA82F...@reader1.news.rcn.net>,

transitinfo.org <anno...@transitinfo.org> wrote:
>The following message was sent via email to registered transitinfo.org
>users:
>
> On this Monday, November 3rd, the www.transitinfo.org website is
> scheduled to relocate to 511.org (which will include a link to
> the new 511 Transit website). The new website will continue to
> offer details about Bay Area transit schedules, routes, fares,
> maps, and other currently offered information, but with an
> updated look and feel, and some new user features.
>

I would argue a WORSE "look and feel" that does not contain the simplicity
of the old www.transitinfo.org website. The new user features could
have been implemented in the old interface. While the new www.transitinfo.org
interface may be in line with marketing web sites, it is a poor choice
for communicating information, the last half of transitinfo.

> As part of this website upgrade, the process for receiving email
> notifications about Bay Area transit service updates for which
> you have registered will also be changing.
>
> EFFECTIVE NOVEMBER 3RD, 2003, THE EMAIL UPDATE NOTIFICATIONS FOR
> WHICH YOU ARE REGISTERED WILL BE TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED. In the
> future, this email update feature will be incorporated into a
> section of the new website called "My Transit Page", which is
> currently under development.
>

Hehehe. "Temporarily suspended" like CalTrain weekend service? Like
SEPTA's trolley routes?

> When the "My Transit Page" feature does becomes available

(not that we are going to give you a date for it, because then we might
actually be held accountable, so if it's far enough in the future, we
hope people will just forget about it)


> those
> of you interested in continuing the email update notification
> service will need to register through that section of the new
> website to continue the service.
>
> We do not yet have an exact date for the rollout of the "My
> Transit Page" section, but will be working to complete it as soon
> as possible. Please check our new website in the coming weeks for
> announcements about a target date for launch of the "My Transit
> Page" section and email update notification feature.
>

"As soon as possible" much like the rollout of Translink(R)?

>Therefore, effective November 3rd, 2003, the notifications posted to
>this newsgroup will also be suspended.

Thus either forcing transit agencies who are customer focused, like
Muni, to waste staff time on posting their own messages rather than
having it done automatically, or else reducing the level of information
given to the public.

>When the "My Transit Page"
>feature described above does becomes available,

(which will happen when pigs fly),


>a message indicating so
>will be posted to this newsgroup. Also, at a future date, direct
>posting to this newsgroup feature may be resumed.
>

"May" because MTC knows that nobody reads newsgroups.

>Thank you for your patience during our transition period.
>

Even if it is infinity.

>MTC Regional Transit Information project

(In other words, I don't want to sign my name to my posts.)

Analysis of new MTC 511 web site:
http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=bms0hg%24t0s%241%40agate.berkeley.edu


--
Hank Fung fun...@ocf.berkeley.edu

Kim

unread,
Nov 1, 2003, 4:37:11 AM11/1/03
to
fun...@OCF.Berkeley.EDU (Hank Fung) wrote in message news:<bnvdvq$302s$1...@agate.berkeley.edu>...


> >
> > We do not yet have an exact date for the rollout of the "My
> > Transit Page" section, but will be working to complete it as soon
> > as possible. Please check our new website in the coming weeks for
> > announcements about a target date for launch of the "My Transit
> > Page" section and email update notification feature.
> >
>
> "As soon as possible" much like the rollout of Translink(R)?
>
> >Therefore, effective November 3rd, 2003, the notifications posted to
> >this newsgroup will also be suspended.
>
> Thus either forcing transit agencies who are customer focused, like
> Muni, to waste staff time on posting their own messages rather than
> having it done automatically, or else reducing the level of information
> given to the public.
>
> >When the "My Transit Page"
> >feature described above does becomes available,
>
> (which will happen when pigs fly),
> >a message indicating so
> >will be posted to this newsgroup. Also, at a future date, direct
> >posting to this newsgroup feature may be resumed.

Due to the suspension of the email notification, we're working on a
back-up to on our site. Push comes to shove, a Yahoo group may be
used. Who knows how long they will take to get the
email-notifications going again.

Kim

Richard Mlynarik

unread,
Nov 1, 2003, 2:33:08 PM11/1/03
to
>> EFFECTIVE NOVEMBER 3RD, 2003, THE EMAIL UPDATE NOTIFICATIONS FOR
>> WHICH YOU ARE REGISTERED WILL BE TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED.
>
>
> Much in the way certain restauraunts close for remodeling, I'm sure.

>
>
>> We do not yet have an exact date for the rollout of the "My
>> Transit Page" section, but will be working to complete it as soon
>> as possible.
>
>
> This is the explanation work when given at my job it would not be
> appropriate to say "We have no time, no resources, and absolutely no
> interest in doing this. Go away."

"We have no clue -- they didn't teach us about TCP port 119 in
our Web Design For Dot Com Success class or in the How To Optimize
Your Web Site To Maximize Micro$oft's Revenue class. But hey,
check out the kewl use of Javascript enhanced IFrames! It rocks!"

The Bay Area is, in one MTC-funded MTC-sponsored MTC-focus-grouped
MTC-designed step, about to go from the best transit information
page in the country to one of the very worst in the entire world.

Fucking evil disgusting worthless scumbags.

Bill Z.

unread,
Nov 1, 2003, 4:52:11 PM11/1/03
to
Richard Mlynarik <M...@POBox.COM> writes:

> "We have no clue -- they didn't teach us about TCP port 119 in
> our Web Design For Dot Com Success class or in the How To Optimize
> Your Web Site To Maximize Micro$oft's Revenue class. But hey,
> check out the kewl use of Javascript enhanced IFrames! It rocks!"
>
> The Bay Area is, in one MTC-funded MTC-sponsored MTC-focus-grouped
> MTC-designed step, about to go from the best transit information
> page in the country to one of the very worst in the entire world.

I tried the new site and sent them several comments. One was to
note that we have an aging population whose visual accuity is
dropping over time, so relative to www.transitinfo.org they
made the font size smaller. Good thinking, guys. :-(

BTW, Jacob Nielson (see <http://www.useit.com>) once pointed out
that web sites tend to use fonts that are too small becasue they
are designed by graphics designers, who usually work with very
high quality monitors and tend to have abnormally sharp vision.

Bill

--
My real name backwards: nemuaZ lliB

Richard Mlynarik

unread,
Nov 2, 2003, 8:54:40 PM11/2/03
to
Bill Z. wrote:

[...]

> I tried the new site and sent them several comments. One was to
> note that we have an aging population whose visual accuity is
> dropping over time, so relative to www.transitinfo.org they
> made the font size smaller. Good thinking, guys. :-(
>
> BTW, Jacob Nielson (see <http://www.useit.com>) once pointed out
> that web sites tend to use fonts that are too small becasue they
> are designed by graphics designers, who usually work with very
> high quality monitors and tend to have abnormally sharp vision.

A web site shouldn't be specifying fonts or font sizes AT ALL.

That's for ME, the viewer, to decide upon, not for some half-wit
dot-com "web design" half-wit to decide for me.

That was the whole point of HTML mark up.

It's none of their fucking business what size my monitor is
or what fonts I use or what shade I like text to appear in
or what browser I use.

Above all, any site which offers options to "skip [Javascript]
navigation" -- but only if you allow the fuckers to set cookies
in your browser -- or which offers an "ADA site" (inevitably
out of date and incomplete and entirely MISSING THE POINT) or
which offers separate "printable version" (as if they have any
idea what I find appropriate on a screen versus on a printed
page, and as if they have any idea of the physical dimensions
of either) and any site which encodes simple text as STUPID
SLOW-LOADING PICTURES OF WORDS and any site which offers an
infantile "my" anything (my computer! mine mine! my little
pony! my transit page!)

Try this:

Using the worthless incompetent morons' site (
http://198.94.156.204/ username "preview" password "transit")
see how much work it takes you to see the Muni 48-Quintara
schedule. Then compare (you only have a couple days left
to try to do so!) with transitinfo.org

(Benchmark: transitinfo.org four mouse clicks, four clean
fast-loading text pages, only one page needed scrolling in
the window size I happened to be using, no pop-ups, no Javascript,
100% browser cacheable, location of stops on Muni map one click
away, maps 100% legible, everything loads instantly.)

So let's look at what MTC's shitheaded contractors are inflicting.

Once you get to the front page
<http://198.94.156.204/index.asp> (the ".asp" suffix tells you
that the fuckwads who wrote this crap are using failure-guaranteeing
Micro$oft software, rather than a web server framework which is
reliable, maintainable and with any chance of any stability either
internally or from the point of view of an external user of links
into the site) you have to click on a PICTURE-OF-TEXT
"Schedules & Route maps" and get to a new page...

<http://198.94.156.204/schedules/index.asp>
Then clicking on the utterly, TOTALLY missing a clue PULL-DOWN MENU
"select a provider", and then clicking to scroll down, and then
clicking on Muni, and then having a new page load (another click
required if Virusscript not enabled) takes you to...

<http://198.94.156.204/schedules/allroutes.asp?cid=SF>
then scroll down the page and having to click "Next" because
the FUCKING CLUELESS WANKERS decide that putting more than 25 lines
on a page might confuse me somehow, then waiting for a new page to
load, then clicking "Next" again because the DOT COM SHITHEADS know
best and don't want me to see too many lines all at once
-- the bastards will plead that they offer a "Printable Version"
link (whatever the hell that is supposed to mean) which if you
make the mistake of clicking on it OPENS A NEW WINDOW IN MY BROWSER
EVEN THOUGH I DID NOT REQUEST IT since of course the FUCKING GENIUS
WEB PROGRAMMERS of "bd Spatial" know better than I do when I need
my workspace cluttered up by extra crap of their devising),
then waiting for the next page to load...

<http://198.94.156.204/schedules/allroutes.asp?cid=SF&rpg=1>
then scrolling and clicking "Next" again because the SCUM SUCKING MTC
HANGER ONS don't have the slightest idea of how to do anything but
qualify for contracts from corrupt government agencies,

<http://198.94.156.204/schedules/allroutes.asp?cid=SF&rpg=2>
then FINALLY being able to click on "48 - Quintara", we find
outself on a page...

<http://198.94.156.204/schedules/routeinfo.asp?cid=SF&rte=5624>
-- hey that sure is one fucking useful URL by the way, what's the
bet that any link to "&rte=5624" bit rots away with a half-life
measured in weeks, as opposed to
<http://www.transitinfo.org/Sched/MU/48/> which worked for YEARS
before the MTC DITSHITS screwed things over -- in which clarity
must surely have been the very very last priority of everybody
concerned.

We're sort of almost there. Almost. But the worst is yet to come.

The screen is dominated by the most useless possible information
-- the big blue pictures-of-words 511.org Javascript-infested
pull-down menus which completely worthlessly consume screen
real estate on every page of the site and provide NO VALUE;
compare with the the brilliantly simple one line textual
"Main Menu : San Francisco Muni : Schedules : Route 48"
links of transitinfo.org -- and the most prominent thing
is one of the worst abortions of cartography which you'll
ever see anywhere. There's something which looks like a map
of San Francisco, but everything's dominated by a a huge
and poorly-rendered North pointing arrow (that's what I care
most about after all, why else would I look at a map?)
and tha map has been bled over by some sort of blurry red
stain from side to side. (The map of course is a fixed
370x260 pixels -- after all the design geniuses of "bd Spatial"
know what sort of display I should be using.) It turns out
that this joke is some sort of representation of the
48 bus line route. Not that that is mentioned anyway --
the most important thing to mention on the map apparently
is that it is "(c) Thomas Bros. Maps. All rights reserved."
(What THAT tells me is that Thomas Brothers digital cartography
is so utterly appallingly bad that under no circumstances would
I ever recommend that any client ever use it for any purpose
whatsoever.)
Oh yeah, this stupid illegible map is machine generated EVERY
TIME you visit the page and their worthless web server instructs
browsers to not cache it, which means you must wait for this
piece of shit to be generated and then be downloaded every time
you step forward of back through the page. Another true stroke
of "bd Spatial"(the "bd" clearly stands for "BRAIN DAMAGE") genius.

But where is the schedule I can so far -- 9 mouse clicks and
six, count 'em SIX web pages -- to see?

Well, it turns out it is hiding in the right-most of the three
columns of shit bd Spatial spew out onto every page. On every
one of the previous screens we've laboured through to get here,
the right-most column of shit has been irrelevant stuff
(all topped by a kewl little logo
<http://198.94.156.204/images/tmp_a_to_b.jpg>
which "brands" the "look and feel" of this "relauched" site,
and apparently is supposed to reassure me that the "web designers"
could NAVIGATE THEIR WAY OUT OF A WET PAPER BAG) which one has
skipped over until this point, since all the "action" (NOTE: MAXIMUM
OF 25 LINES OF ACTION ONLY!) has been in the middle column of
dreck until this point.

So we get all the way to the page of 48-Quintata schedules and we
find that what we've come to regard as the central part of
511.org pages is occupied by the crappiest and most irrelevant
cartography in the universe, while suddenly the stuff we're
supposed to navigate through next has jumped over to the side
to the location where all the stuff to be ignored has occupied
time, space and bandwidth until this point.

Those MTC contractor rascals! Always keeping us on our toes!

A tenth mouse click and a seventh web page loads.

<http://198.94.156.204/schedules/detail.asp?cid=SF&rte=5624&dir=IB&day=4&mode=h>

Words fail at this point.

The sheer, mind-boggling, unbounded ineptness of "bd Spatial"'s
Web Design Team exceeds all understanding.

The schedule is encoded as HTML "iframe" -- a Micro$oft Explorer
"innovation" of no utility -- in order to make the schedules
inconvenient and inaccessible to every single user of the site.
(What happens if you're not running an "up to date" browser
compatible with the utterly indespensible marvel of technological
innovation? You're screwed. Nowhere on the site do they provide
any backwards compatibility. Of course that's part of the whole
strategy of using Micro$oft web servers -- force everybody who
visits the site to cough up extra to Bill Gates for the latest
pile of fresh steaming software shit just so they can view their
bus schedule without extra indirections to a "Printer Friendly
Site" or an "Accessible Site". Assholes.)

The MTC-determined dimensions of this "iframe" are microscopic
(for me, but guaranteed completely inappropriate REGARDLESS of
your browser technology; it's reassuring to have one constant
thing in this world, and that being that whatever the San Francisco
Bay Area's MPO does, it is ALWAYS WRONG) and fixed immutably
by the omnisient Web Designers of bd Spatial at width="554"
height="360".

I can't see anything useful without scrolling around in this
tiny little window embdedded within my browser window; there's
nothing of any use visible in either the horizontal or the
vertical dimension.

Of course, I had to scroll my browser window downwards to fully
expose the scroll bars of the iframe. Another waste. Another
complete misunderstanding of USERS' desire to get to RELEVANT
information QUICKLY and PAINLESSLY.

But I have options!!!

If "you can not see a schedule, please view the accessible
version". That takes me to
<http://198.94.156.204/schedules/accdetail.asp?cid=SF&rte=5624&dir=IB&day=4&mode=H>
where at least I'm presented with one moderately simply HTML
table with all the runs show in one place, without any iframe crap.

But WHY should I have to do this extra step to just get what EVERBODY
would rather see in the first place? Because "bd Spatial" want to
show the next sucker client just how advanced they are in the use of
the most stupid and infuriating parts of the HTML standards du jour,
is the only thing which springs to mind.

Note that every row in this table has a very, very helpful label
"Trip 1", "Trip 2", ... "Trip 65". A stroke of utter brilliance!
Ths conveys exactly ZERO INFORMATION TO ANYBODY!!! I'm waiting at
the corner of Quintata and 36th Avenue. Thanks for 511.org, I
don't get on a bus until I see it has "Trip 17" displayed on it.
These aren't even the internal Muni run numbers; they're just
completely valueless. Who comes up with this shit? What were they
thinking? Who reviews it? Who pays them? Hellooo??????

Oh yes, there are no links from any of the timepoints to
a location on a transit map, or any other sort of map.
Compare <http://www.transitinfo.org/Sched/MU/48/WE/IB.html>
with its nice, albeit half-implemented work-in-progress, links
from the descriptions of the timepoints to locations on the Muni
map. The old transitinfo.org people were in the process of doing
these truly helpful timepoint links all over the site, but once
the MTC cretins took over and decided that a New Look And Feel
Rebranded Site Relaunch was more important than providing information
to transit users, that all went by the wayside, along with everything
else.

But getting back to bd Spatials timetable pages, we find we have
OTHER OPTIONS!

We can "Show Stops: as column headings" or "Show stops: as row headings"

Hands up ANYBODY who can figure out what following those links might do?
Not I. It's UTTERLY opaque.

Experiment
(<http://198.94.156.204/schedules/detail.asp?cid=SF&rte=5624&dir=IB&day=4&mode=v>)
shows that it transposes the stupid iframe, making the oh-so-useful
"Trip 1" "Trip 2" headings appear horizontally and the timepoints
vertically. Is that of any possible use to anybody? No, of course not.
But it's another FEATURE on the web site, and I'm sure we're paying for
this shit by the feature count summarised on some P*werp*int
presentation to MTC staff.

But what about real options, things I might like to see?

Well, first consider the links which "bd Spatial" provides.
Alongside the huge, useless pictures-of-words navigation bar
taking up the left side of the window (featuring "Skip navigation"
and "What is "Skip Navigation"?" on every page, along with
"About 511 transit", "Suggestions" (AS IF!!!!), "Tell a Friend"
(only my WORST ENEMY should be subjected to this intelligence-lowering
debacle) and "Transit Site Directory") we find, in the central column
"Printable Version" (anybody who thinks they need a separate "printable
version" of anything is clearly a gibbering monkey who failes to
understand the most basic ideas behind the web);
"Accessible Version" (ditto, IN SPADES);
"Show stops: as column headings" (an utterly redundant link, on top
of its inherent uselessness, since the idiot iframe-bondage table is
already being "shown as column headings");
"Show stops: as row headings" (useless, but at least it does something);
"Choose a different schedule for this provider" (bullshit jargon,
why not say "View schedule of a different Muni line", or better yet
why not have the lovely simple, useable, uncluttered and completely
transparent one-line textual transitinfo.org navigation line?);
"Start over and select a new schedule and provider" (I can hardly wait
to go through the ten mouse click ordeal); and
"If you can not see a schedule, please view the accessible version"
(didn't we already have that nonsense at the top of the page? Yes.)

To make up for it, all thse worthless links are separated from each
other by blank lines, and stand on lines by themselves. This ensures
that the maximal space is occupied by bd Spatial Web Design Bullshit
and redundant navigation links to irrelevant locations, and a
minimal amount of space -- 554 by 360 pixels, and be grateful we allow
you that much, worm -- is used to show the damned bus line timetable
we came all this way to view.

Now what WOULD be useful to provide links to on this page?
Well, you need go no further than the "obsolete"
<http://www.transitinfo.org/Sched/MU/48/WE/IB.html> page to
see.

There at the top of the page is one clear line of text
"Main Menu : San Francisco Muni : Schedules : Route 48 : TO THIRD STREET
Weekend"
Each of the separated elements is a link to EXACTLY where you'd
expect to go.

Below that we find one single line of textual links
[Outbound] [Weekday] [Route Map] [Route Description] [Complete Schedule]
These take us exactly where we wish to go if we wish to discover
any more about actually RIDING THE DAMNED BUS LINE as opposed to
TRYING TO WORK OUT WHAT THE FUCK brain damaged Spatial WAS "THINKING".

At the bottom the the page, after the ACTUAL TIMETABLE, which is
plain text, trivial to scroll through, trivial to cut and paste,
which requires no "Printable version" and no "Accessible Version",
and after the "Key to Timepoints" with truly convenient links directly
to the wonderful (really, one of the best maps on the planet) Muni
map on transitinfo.org, we find a very concise, very unobtrusive
page footer, with "About transitinfo.org", and links to a bunch of
common global places ("Main Menu" redundantly but usefully,
"Comments" which ALWAYS used to be considered and usually acted upon,
"Search", "Trip Planner", etc.)

This is where the sort of boilerplate belongs. I DO NOT need a large
fraction of every single page I visit to be consumed with a sidebar
with pictures-of-words navigation crap. If I get truly lost it is
there for me on every page, but OUT OF THE WAY, not obscuring,
constricting and cluttering the actual INFORMATION on the page.

But let's go back to 511.org, shall we? (After that let's have some
recreational dental surgery done without any anaesthetic.)

Back at
<http://198.94.156.204/schedules/detail.asp?cid=SF&rte=5624&dir=IB&day=4&mode=h>

Where do I find a map of the 48's route on this page? Nowhere.
Where do I find the schedule for the reverse direction? Nowhere.
Where do I find where the listed timepoints (all of them with
incorrect capitalization, incidentally, eg "24th St.&mission St."
or "Great Highway/rivera St") actually lie within San Francisco?
Nowhere.

But who needs that sort of stuff, when important things like "Skip
Navigation" are offered to you on every page?


Next up... the absolute worst cartography in the universe, bar none.
All brought to you by brain damaged Spatial (that weird capitalisation
is so quaintly 1990s, isn't it?) and your caring, sharing regional
transportation "planning" and "coordination" MPO, the Metropolitan
Transporation Commission.

Go on. I dare you. Click on the map in
<http://198.94.156.204/schedules/routeinfo.asp?cid=SF&rte=5624>
and try to imagine how it could POSSIBLY be worse.

(Save your screen shots of
<http://transitinfo.org/Sched/MU/48/M/> and
<http://transitinfo.org/cgi-bin/zoom/MU/system?XPART=4.5&YPART=5&ZOOM=2>
soon; hard evidence of MTC's boundless incompetence and utter
user hostility needs to be recorded!)


Hank Fung

unread,
Nov 2, 2003, 10:58:39 PM11/2/03
to
Bravo, Richard. Well done.

--
Hank Fung fun...@ocf.berkeley.edu

Bill Z.

unread,
Nov 3, 2003, 1:11:02 AM11/3/03
to
Richard Mlynarik <M...@POBox.COM> writes:

> Bill Z. wrote:
>
> [...]
>
> > I tried the new site and sent them several comments. One was to
> > note that we have an aging population whose visual accuity is
> > dropping over time, so relative to www.transitinfo.org they
> > made the font size smaller. Good thinking, guys. :-(
> > BTW, Jacob Nielson (see <http://www.useit.com>) once pointed out
> > that web sites tend to use fonts that are too small becasue they
> > are designed by graphics designers, who usually work with very
> > high quality monitors and tend to have abnormally sharp vision.
>
> A web site shouldn't be specifying fonts or font sizes AT ALL.

I take it, then that you read Nielson's site, which says precisely
that. He also points out, however, that the web site designers have
excellent vision due to being graphics designers, which results in
fonts the rest of us have difficulty using no matter what.

>
> That's for ME, the viewer, to decide upon, not for some half-wit
> dot-com "web design" half-wit to decide for me.

One good thing about Mozilla is that you can easily scale up the
font size regardless of what the designer specified. It is a pain
to do, however, even if you make it controllable using a "mouse
wheel."

<rest of Richard's rant snipped>

Yes, the site has serious design problems. I wasn't going to waste
the time to enumerate them. I really don't think MTC has a clue.

It seems to follow my corollary to Moore's law which states that any
increase in computer speed and network bandwidth will be taken up by
useless fluff.

bikerider7

unread,
Nov 4, 2003, 3:53:17 PM11/4/03
to
Richard Mlynarik <M...@POBox.COM> wrote in message news:<Azipb.2671$Wy2....@typhoon.sonic.net>...

>
> Note that every row in this table has a very, very helpful label
> "Trip 1", "Trip 2", ... "Trip 65". A stroke of utter brilliance!
> Ths conveys exactly ZERO INFORMATION TO ANYBODY!!! I'm waiting at
> the corner of Quintata and 36th Avenue. Thanks for 511.org, I
> don't get on a bus until I see it has "Trip 17" displayed on it.
> These aren't even the internal Muni run numbers; they're just
> completely valueless. Who comes up with this shit? What were they
> thinking? Who reviews it? Who pays them? Hellooo??????

My Windows-98 browser didn't show the "Trip #n" labels. However, it may
be indicative of a far more serious problem than mere interface issues.

I've been told that with the November 15th change to allow bikes on reverse-
commute BART trains on the new SFOX lines, BART will not be printing
new schedules to reflect this change -- because it would cost way too much
and they will be printing new schedules anyway early next year when the
planned fare increase.

So, why not at least update the web schedules -- which use a bike
icon to indicate bike-accessible trains? BART staff has reported
that even doing that would be extremeley complicated and costly.
This raises the question as to what kind of underlying database
they are using for the schedules -- or if there even _is_ a database
or whether they are instead doing it all manually. If implemented
properly, it should take just a few seconds to make such a trivial
schedule change on the web.

Andy Chow

unread,
Nov 4, 2003, 10:57:31 PM11/4/03
to
I am wondering if anyone has a copy of the full content of the old
transitinfo.org. I am contemplating upload it on another server.

The new web site does have some small improvements to the interface, but the
new site fails at delivering schedules and maps. The GIS map looks terrible.
The site is also very slow to load.

Just to let you know that because of the closure of www.transitinfo.org, I
uploaded the Caltrain schedule and system map at
http://ts.sjsu.edu/Guidetoride/caltrain.htm

The system map is a remake of the map which includes new fare zones.
transitinfo.org never updated the map.


"Richard Mlynarik" <M...@POBox.COM> wrote in message
news:Azipb.2671$Wy2....@typhoon.sonic.net...

Hank Fung

unread,
Nov 4, 2003, 11:53:05 PM11/4/03
to
In article <Ly_pb.79412$275.227170@attbi_s53>,

Andy Chow <andy...@comcast.net> wrote:
>I am wondering if anyone has a copy of the full content of the old
>transitinfo.org. I am contemplating upload it on another server.
>

Someone on Metafilter (http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/29364) found the
link to the old transitinfo site, which is at http://198.94.156.9/.
It would be nice if someone would wget the site before it goes down.
Currently, the old transitinfo is being kept alive for the agencies
that aren't on transit.511.org, like Cloverdale Transit and Healdsburg.

One thing I've noticed about transit.511.org is that some agencies
have chosen to opt-out, like Fairfield-Suisun Transit. And get
the site soon, as the links are starting to slowly disappear
(although directory links seem to still be present if you know them
by name or can look them up at the Internet Archive).

>The new web site does have some small improvements to the interface, but the
>new site fails at delivering schedules and maps. The GIS map looks terrible.
>The site is also very slow to load.
>

They even admitted it, at http://transit.511.org/announcements/detail.asp?ann=841

"We have recently moved the transitinfo.org site into transit.511.org,
incorporating old favorites like the TakeTransitSM Trip Planner with new
features like Popular Destinations. While we are excited about the new
site, the web page is experiencing some performance problems and response
time delays due to the switch. We appreciate everyone's patience as we try
to work through the problems. We will install a fix as soon as possible."

I thought that was what the bloody preview was all about. The site was
"previewed" for three weeks. Something as basic as load balancing should
have been simulated during that period.

>Just to let you know that because of the closure of www.transitinfo.org, I
>uploaded the Caltrain schedule and system map at
>http://ts.sjsu.edu/Guidetoride/caltrain.htm
>
>The system map is a remake of the map which includes new fare zones.
>transitinfo.org never updated the map.

Looks like more agencies are going to have to do that in order to continue
serving their customers. Waiting for transit.511.org to do it takes longer
than just doing it yourself and slapping it on a web page.

So much for unified information. Welcome to the brave new world of
balkanization (as if the Bay Area hadn't experienced it before).


--
Hank Fung fun...@ocf.berkeley.edu

Kim

unread,
Nov 5, 2003, 2:09:46 PM11/5/03
to
fun...@OCF.Berkeley.EDU (Hank Fung) wrote in message news:<bo9vnh$25uf$1...@agate.berkeley.edu>...
> In article <Ly_pb.79412$275.227170@attbi_s53>,

>
> >Just to let you know that because of the closure of www.transitinfo.org, I
> >uploaded the Caltrain schedule and system map at
> >http://ts.sjsu.edu/Guidetoride/caltrain.htm
> >
> >The system map is a remake of the map which includes new fare zones.
> >transitinfo.org never updated the map.
>
> Looks like more agencies are going to have to do that in order to continue
> serving their customers. Waiting for transit.511.org to do it takes longer
> than just doing it yourself and slapping it on a web page.
>
> So much for unified information. Welcome to the brave new world of
> balkanization (as if the Bay Area hadn't experienced it before).

We have been putting our own timetables on our site for the last
couple of years since quite a few times we would change a time here or
there. Updates were still sent to Transitinfo though. The format of
our online timetables were taken after the classic Transitinfo style.

I'm tempted to do a wget of the old site before it's gone, or at least
the WHEELS part of it, and maybe put it somewhere.

Try running transit.511.org on a text-to-speech reader. It freezes it
when trying to read the timetables. Was no problem on the old site.

Kim

Aaron Priven

unread,
Nov 5, 2003, 2:10:15 PM11/5/03
to
bay_bri...@yahoo.com (bikerider7) wrote in message news:<d35d6005.03110...@posting.google.com>...

> Richard Mlynarik <M...@POBox.COM> wrote in message news:<Azipb.2671$Wy2....@typhoon.sonic.net>...
> >
> > Note that every row in this table has a very, very helpful label
> > "Trip 1", "Trip 2", ... "Trip 65". A stroke of utter brilliance!
> > Ths conveys exactly ZERO INFORMATION TO ANYBODY!!!
>
> My Windows-98 browser didn't show the "Trip #n" labels. However, it may
> be indicative of a far more serious problem than mere interface issues.

The "Trip x" labels are there (in the "accessible version") for people
using programs that read the screen aloud. They would otherwise have
to deal with an uninterrupted series of times, and would find it very
difficult to count off where a trip begins or ends.

For what it's worth, having met a lot of the people involved in this,
I think they are well-meaning and don't really deserve the level of
opprobrium ("evil") placed upon them in this group. It's pretty easy
to call people "evil" whom you've never met. Remember that these are
the people who brought us the trip planner, which for all its faults
*is* a major improvement for people -- unlike most of us in this group
-- who are not terribly familiar with transit in the Bay Area. I
think the GIS maps -- when they work, and certainly not replacing the
value of regular maps -- are nonetheless valuable as an addition.
Searching for things by map is a useful feature, especially if you
know where you are but not the difference between VTA and SamTrans.

Richard's insistence that one wants a transit map rather than a
walking map when one has reached one's destination in the trip planner
still baffles me. I also think it's a good idea to allow the user to
choose whether to show trips as columns (as on printed Caltrain
schedules) or as columns (as on most other schedules). That allows
people to have their choice. Isn't that the basic principle behind the
idea of letting the user choose his or her own font size, window size,
etc.?

As for "no website should choose a font," I disagree: in general style
is important in getting across a message and that is what
communication is about. Subtext matters. In this particular case I
agree that style should be pretty subordinate to the practicality of
using the site, and the images-of-text don't add much, especially
since one of those headings is in text anyway, and is a pain to
download. Adding a face specification is not unreasonable -- branding
*is* useful, it helps remind people what site they're on and thus
helps them not get lost. Albeit I agree that if it were defined in
CSS, then the teeny proportion of people who override site-specific
style sheets for whatever reason could continue to do so.

Having said that, I do agree that the *sizes* should be left to the
user. In general I do agree that the site has unfortunately fixed the
display size (although for me this is not as bad as the AC Transit
home page, which has text that's practically too small to read on my
screen), and the "iframe" thing is not necessary since the reader is
perfectly capable of using the scroll bars within the browser window
to accomplish this. The text-as-images don't seem to add much to me,
either.

I think it's much better for the user to use HTML tables for
schedules, with a proportional font, with full descriptions in the
titles rather than using the little abbreviations and forcing people
to look elsewhere for whatever they might mean. There's no real
advantage to plain text display.

I think the "printable versions" are pretty pointless given that they
will end up spreading themselves over several different pages
indiscriminately, but Richard wouldn't agree with me that a real
printable PDF ought to be made available that is designed to be
printed on standard letter-size paper so that it can be taken with the
person. (Those poor, poor people who are living in Europe who have A4
paper and who are planning to visit the US next week will have to
suffer with a reduced page. Darn.)

A number of transit providers have asked specifically for persistent
links to specific routes as well as to specific providers, and to make
these links public.

Finally, I wouldn't overplay how wonderful Dan and Mikael were at
administering transitinfo.org. As one of the people responsible for
getting them data, I can tell you that while they did their best, they
were not able to be responsive and update the material in a timely
manner in many cases. Whether the new group will be better is a
separate question, of course, but the system is designed so that
transit providers can directly update a lot of material, which is
generally a good thing.

David MR

unread,
Nov 6, 2003, 12:49:45 AM11/6/03
to

"Andy Chow" <andy...@comcast.net> wrote in message
news:Ly_pb.79412$275.227170@attbi_s53...

> I am wondering if anyone has a copy of the full content of the old
> transitinfo.org. I am contemplating upload it on another server.
Go to www.archive.org. This is a great site. As its name implies, it
archives the web. I looked up www.transitinfo.org and found many pages
going back several years there.

--
David R
http://home.attbi.com/~damiross
http://home.attbi.com/~damiross/books.html


Hank Fung

unread,
Nov 6, 2003, 2:29:06 AM11/6/03
to
In article <22f86f8b.03110...@posting.google.com>,

Aaron Priven <fromu...@priven.com> wrote:
>The "Trip x" labels are there (in the "accessible version") for people
>using programs that read the screen aloud. They would otherwise have
>to deal with an uninterrupted series of times, and would find it very
>difficult to count off where a trip begins or ends.
>
>For what it's worth, having met a lot of the people involved in this,
>I think they are well-meaning and don't really deserve the level of
>opprobrium ("evil") placed upon them in this group. It's pretty easy
>to call people "evil" whom you've never met.

Note that I never called the bd Systems people "evil", although others
may have. I just think they don't know squat about web design. While
there is a significant challenge in putting together all that information
from different agencies, the complicated user interface leaves much
to be desired.

Also, some of the information just tends to be wrong. For instance, look
at the BART fare at http://www.transitinfo.org/fares/fare.asp?cid=BA&fzn=2239&tzn=2262&image2.x=18&image2.y=12
See a problem? There is no such thing as a "senior" or "student" fare.
They get tickets, so their effective cost may be the fares listed,
but they must buy discount tickets at specified locations in specified
denominations. The old transitinfo site had much more flexibility
in inputting information about quirks like such (see
http://web.archive.org/web/20000815072554/www.transitinfo.org/BART/tickets.html)
for how transitinfo handled BART ticket types).

>Remember that these are
>the people who brought us the trip planner, which for all its faults
>*is* a major improvement for people -- unlike most of us in this group
>-- who are not terribly familiar with transit in the Bay Area.

But with all this integration, why aren't all the Bay Area agencies
in the system? The old trip planner promised integration of all
agencies "by Summer 2003" (http://198.94.156.9/cgi-bin/taketransit), yet
the new trip planner still omits several major agencies.

>I
>think the GIS maps -- when they work, and certainly not replacing the
>value of regular maps -- are nonetheless valuable as an addition.
>Searching for things by map is a useful feature, especially if you
>know where you are but not the difference between VTA and SamTrans.
>

But a) they don't work and b) they replaced the old maps. Where can
I find a PDF version of the AC Transit system map? With the new
system, I can't. (And speaking of which, they create a false
dichotomy between Transbay and local, when on some Transbay lines,
such as the F, N/NL, and O, there is significant local traffic.)


>But the bd Systems team


>Richard's insistence that one wants a transit map rather than a
>walking map when one has reached one's destination in the trip planner
>still baffles me. I also think it's a good idea to allow the user to
>choose whether to show trips as columns (as on printed Caltrain
>schedules) or as columns (as on most other schedules). That allows
>people to have their choice. Isn't that the basic principle behind the
>idea of letting the user choose his or her own font size, window size,
>etc.?
>

But the transit.511.org denies users the choices transitinfo provided,
and provides no additional benefit. The "Popular Destinations"
function, much ballyhooed on transit.511.org, provides information
already duplicated by the numerous travel guides in the Bay Area,
and was provided by the old site anyway, in text format. Some
of the information is pretty useless (let's plan a trip to
San Jose State University, http://www.transitinfo.org/destinations/detail.asp?did=127,
when VTA isn't even in the database).

I do agree, though, that Thomas Brothers Maps has been unfairly
slighted recently. Their Digital Edition of maps are relatively good,
although I shudder to say that Microsoft MapPoint does have them beat,
although they compete at different price points. But the GIS versions
on the site are worthless. Look at this locator map of the San
Francisco Public Library, and I dare you to use this to find the
library: http://www.transitinfo.org/destinations/detail.asp?did=125

>As for "no website should choose a font," I disagree: in general style
>is important in getting across a message and that is what
>communication is about. Subtext matters. In this particular case I
>agree that style should be pretty subordinate to the practicality of
>using the site, and the images-of-text don't add much, especially
>since one of those headings is in text anyway, and is a pain to
>download. Adding a face specification is not unreasonable -- branding
>*is* useful, it helps remind people what site they're on and thus
>helps them not get lost. Albeit I agree that if it were defined in
>CSS, then the teeny proportion of people who override site-specific
>style sheets for whatever reason could continue to do so.
>
>Having said that, I do agree that the *sizes* should be left to the
>user. In general I do agree that the site has unfortunately fixed the
>display size (although for me this is not as bad as the AC Transit
>home page, which has text that's practically too small to read on my
>screen), and the "iframe" thing is not necessary since the reader is
>perfectly capable of using the scroll bars within the browser window
>to accomplish this. The text-as-images don't seem to add much to me,
>either.
>
>I think it's much better for the user to use HTML tables for
>schedules, with a proportional font, with full descriptions in the
>titles rather than using the little abbreviations and forcing people
>to look elsewhere for whatever they might mean. There's no real
>advantage to plain text display.
>

Except that it makes it lynx compatible. Before you scoff at who is
using Lynx, may I remind you that most of the public access terminals
at the San Francisco Public Library are Internet-capable, and do have
access to lynx, which I have used in the past to look up schedules
when the graphical Internet machines are taken. The "accessible versions"
take many more scrolldowns and right-arrows than the old transitinfo,
not to mention that the presentation of the timepoints was superior
in the old text-based system than it is in the new transit.511.org
system, with basically a space-delimited line for both the timepoints
and the scheduled times.

>I think the "printable versions" are pretty pointless given that they
>will end up spreading themselves over several different pages
>indiscriminately, but Richard wouldn't agree with me that a real
>printable PDF ought to be made available that is designed to be
>printed on standard letter-size paper so that it can be taken with the
>person. (Those poor, poor people who are living in Europe who have A4
>paper and who are planning to visit the US next week will have to
>suffer with a reduced page. Darn.)
>

I do, though. Not all critics of the new transit.511.org think alike.
I would even go as far to say that just putting the schedules on
as PDF would be superior to the slop we have now. PDF files are
relatively small, they can be printed and magnified easily, and
they have much, much better maps than what's generated today (the
same ones the riders get). The chief disadvantage is that PDF
shuts out the disabled and the text-only users.

I would suggest "printable version" include an option to access
the real PDF file of the schedule that was sent to the printer.

>A number of transit providers have asked specifically for persistent
>links to specific routes as well as to specific providers, and to make
>these links public.
>

Which the old transitinfo had, in an intuitive format.
Is this URL, http://198.94.156.9/Sched/AC/F-FS/WD/WB.html, better
than this URL,
http://transit.511.org/schedules/detail.asp?cid=AD&rte=5207&dir=WE&day=1&mode=h?

(I do find it funny how transit.511.org gave up on its database
for almost all the providers except BART, Muni, and AC Transbay.
Transitinfo lives!)

>Finally, I wouldn't overplay how wonderful Dan and Mikael were at
>administering transitinfo.org. As one of the people responsible for
>getting them data, I can tell you that while they did their best, they
>were not able to be responsive and update the material in a timely
>manner in many cases. Whether the new group will be better is a
>separate question, of course, but the system is designed so that
>transit providers can directly update a lot of material, which is
>generally a good thing.

Then why, in the above linked schedules, does the AC Transit F line have
different schedules between transitinfo and transit.511.org? Unless AC
Transit has unilaterally decided to cut service without a hearing (which I
know they don't do), then where did transit.511.org pull those times out
of? (To be fair, that's the only mistake I noticed in the schedules today,
but I wasn't really looking). Perhaps having direct connections to transit
agencies is not necessarily a panacea.


--
Hank Fung fun...@ocf.berkeley.edu

David Nebenzahl

unread,
Nov 6, 2003, 3:20:14 PM11/6/03
to
On 11/5/2003 11:29 PM Hank Fung spake thus:

[...]

> I do agree, though, that Thomas Brothers Maps has been unfairly
> slighted recently. Their Digital Edition of maps are relatively good,
> although I shudder to say that Microsoft MapPoint does have them beat,
> although they compete at different price points. But the GIS versions
> on the site are worthless. Look at this locator map of the San
> Francisco Public Library, and I dare you to use this to find the
> library: http://www.transitinfo.org/destinations/detail.asp?did=125

Apparently the trick is to zoom in, whereupon the street names magically
appear and all is revealed. Perhaps this incredibly obese URL will show this:

http://www.transitinfo.org/destinations/detail.asp?mc=ZoomToLevel&ztl=7&lmk=34685&om=False&zl=5&x1=-122.445040538462&y1=37.7587009999997&x2=-122.388117461538&y2=37.7987010000003&rid=0.9816339&did=125&shml=False#map

(Why they didn't make *this* the default zoom level for this map is beyond me.)


--
Until I have some idea who these folks are, I have to assume they're all
the same person.

- "RicSilver", resident village idiot from ba.transportation.

Aaron Priven

unread,
Nov 10, 2003, 4:01:02 AM11/10/03
to
fun...@OCF.Berkeley.EDU (Hank Fung) wrote in message news:<boct82$4mu$1...@agate.berkeley.edu>...

[Fares]


> The old transitinfo site had much more flexibility
> in inputting information about quirks like such

Yes, it did. That's because everything was a separate system, rather
than being based on the idea of the One Big Database. This data comes
from the trip planner. The SCAG trip planner which MTC uses apparently
has a lot of limitations on fares. That's why "AC Transbay" is listed
separately, for example: it's the only way for it to deal with the
fare differential (or so I have been told).

I have also been told that MTC is planning to bid for a replacement
for the SCAG trip planner.

I'm not saying all this is the right decisions... I'm saying these
people aren't evil, and at least some of the 511.org stuff is
beneficial. You weren't saying that MTC was evil, but Richard was.
Well, MTC is not all of a piece. No large organization is.

> But with all this integration, why aren't all the Bay Area agencies
> in the system? The old trip planner promised integration of all
> agencies "by Summer 2003" (http://198.94.156.9/cgi-bin/taketransit), yet
> the new trip planner still omits several major agencies.

Well, because it's hard. The trip planner requires not only schedule
information but geographic information on each bus stop and
information on the order where each route pattern visits each stop. In
a lot of cases that GPS info simply doesn't exist.

Moreover, the responsibility is joint betwen MTC and each agency.

> But a) they don't work and b) they replaced the old maps. Where can
> I find a PDF version of the AC Transit system map? With the new
> system, I can't.

MTC has made a space available for this; if the agency hasn't put it
up it is the fault of the agency. In this particular case I am the
person responsible, but I haven't yet figured out the best way of
putting up the new system maps. PDFs of them may be too big to be
useful.

> (And speaking of which, they create a false
> dichotomy between Transbay and local, when on some Transbay lines,
> such as the F, N/NL, and O, there is significant local traffic.)

Fare limitations with the trip planner.

> But the transit.511.org denies users the choices transitinfo provided,
> and provides no additional benefit.

It provides some choices, and takes away others. I am not suggesting
that I agree with all the decisions that were made, but I can
understand why MTC would want to have a process that allowed the
agencies to update their own information, and have a single database
that contained the information to be processed and distributed.

As for "popular destinations", I personally think this is a good
thing, wish that we had done it first. Yes, travel guides exist; few
of them are focused on transit.

Clearly the GIS maps are broken in some ways. But I am not convinced
they will always be broken, or that they are completely useless now,
and I am convinced that being able to click on a map and have the
system respond intelligently to your location selection is very
useful.

> >I think it's much better for the user to use HTML tables for

> >schedules[...]


>
> Except that it makes it lynx compatible.

Yes, it's unfortunate that lynx doesn't handle this. But the last time
I was in the San Francisco Public Library most of the terminals had
been replaced by GUI terminals of some type or other. I question the
validity of making it worse for lots and lots of people just because
the people working on lynx haven't got tables working properly yet.

> I do, though. Not all critics of the new transit.511.org think alike.
> I would even go as far to say that just putting the schedules on
> as PDF would be superior to the slop we have now.

That would work for some agencies; not for AC, where we print them in
odd sizes like 15x21. Not very printable, really.

> Then why, in the above linked schedules, does the AC Transit F line have
> different schedules between transitinfo and transit.511.org?

Because it's broken. I don't know why specifically. We asked them to
return to Transitinfo until our December signup when AC will be going
to a new scheduling system internally.

> Perhaps having direct connections to transit
> agencies is not necessarily a panacea.

Nothing's a panacea. In this particular case it's almost certainly
some human error. They apparently have been entering a lot of AC
Transit data manually. That will change in December. (The current
scheduling system AC Transit uses is apparently cruft from the 1980s.)

bikerider7

unread,
Nov 10, 2003, 2:37:55 PM11/10/03
to
fromu...@priven.com (Aaron Priven) wrote in message news:<22f86f8b.03111...@posting.google.com>...

>
> Well, because it's hard. The trip planner requires not only schedule
> information but geographic information on each bus stop and
> information on the order where each route pattern visits each stop. In
> a lot of cases that GPS info simply doesn't exist.

I don't see what the big complication is. Presumably the backend
GIS system can provide coordinates for any cross-street. Since the
routes have to be entered into the database anyway (to output
individual schedules), this ought to come for free. If it is more
complicated then this, then someone chose the wrong GIS and/or trip-planner.

>
> > But a) they don't work and b) they replaced the old maps. Where can
> > I find a PDF version of the AC Transit system map? With the new
> > system, I can't.
>
> MTC has made a space available for this; if the agency hasn't put it
> up it is the fault of the agency.

This guarantees failure as separate agencies point fingers at each other.

> In this particular case I am the
> person responsible, but I haven't yet figured out the best way of
> putting up the new system maps. PDFs of them may be too big to be
> useful.

Why re-invent the wheel? The old transitinfo did a pretty good job
of navigating the AC Transit system map.


>
> > >I think it's much better for the user to use HTML tables for
> > >schedules[...]
> >
> > Except that it makes it lynx compatible.
>
> Yes, it's unfortunate that lynx doesn't handle this. But the last time
> I was in the San Francisco Public Library most of the terminals had
> been replaced by GUI terminals of some type or other. I question the
> validity of making it worse for lots and lots of people just because
> the people working on lynx haven't got tables working properly yet.

Granted, lynx is really obscure, but there are other very good
technical reasons for using HTML tables.

Hank Fung

unread,
Nov 11, 2003, 1:53:58 AM11/11/03
to
In article <22f86f8b.03111...@posting.google.com>,

Aaron Priven <fromu...@priven.com> wrote:
>Yes, it did. That's because everything was a separate system, rather
>than being based on the idea of the One Big Database. This data comes
>from the trip planner. The SCAG trip planner which MTC uses apparently
>has a lot of limitations on fares. That's why "AC Transbay" is listed
>separately, for example: it's the only way for it to deal with the
>fare differential (or so I have been told).
>

On the one hand, the MTC system is much, much better than the SCAG one,
for the simple reason that it doesn't block eveyone out into half hour
dayparts, thus making the system essentially useless. (Apparently,
based on my playing around with the system, located at
http://latranstar.tann.com/transit2/scripts/newpagetest.asp,
the system barely seems to be working at all.) The company that
developed it, Aune & Associates, let its domain name lapse, never
a good sign. (On the other hand, I'm having the MTC 511 system
dump "The TakeTransitSM system is not responding" messages every
other try I've had at the system tonight.)

In Southern California, the Transtar system is so bad that both MTA
and OCTA decided to start up their own competing systems for their
own counties. MTA uses the Mapvision system, which strangely enough
now includes all the surrounding counties. I don't know what OCTA uses.

The San Diego Trapeze software (http://www.sdcommute.com/RiderInfo/tripPlanning/index.asp)
is actually pretty good, and gives you multiple options, always a good
thing. No walking maps, though.

But, the SCAG system can accomodate multiple fare types for different
services. It differentiates between local, express, and super-express
services. All the other trip planners I've seen do this, so it
shouldn't be a problem. I think for the other trip planners, a line
is delineated that when a bus passes, the extra fare is charged. In
fairness to MTC, the trip planner did correctly charge the fare
on a local ride on an express bus.

>I have also been told that MTC is planning to bid for a replacement
>for the SCAG trip planner.
>

I hope so. The SCAG planner barely looks like it's being maintained,
at least down here in SCAG land. Then again, nothing that SCAG does
seems to incorporate public comment or anything like that. At least
MTC attempts to listen to people, but that's another rant for
another day.

>I'm not saying all this is the right decisions... I'm saying these
>people aren't evil, and at least some of the 511.org stuff is
>beneficial. You weren't saying that MTC was evil, but Richard was.
>Well, MTC is not all of a piece. No large organization is.
>
>> But with all this integration, why aren't all the Bay Area agencies
>> in the system? The old trip planner promised integration of all
>> agencies "by Summer 2003" (http://198.94.156.9/cgi-bin/taketransit), yet
>> the new trip planner still omits several major agencies.
>
>Well, because it's hard. The trip planner requires not only schedule
>information but geographic information on each bus stop and
>information on the order where each route pattern visits each stop. In
>a lot of cases that GPS info simply doesn't exist.
>
>Moreover, the responsibility is joint betwen MTC and each agency.
>

It doesn't have to be. I work for an agency which is operating special
service for the MTA strike. All the coordination we did was to
email the route map and schedule to the appropriate person at
MTA. The schedules and map were incorporated in trip plans the
next day.

You make it seem like there is serious programming involved, and that
the agency has to do it themselves. We got the information to
MTA, and MTA added it, during a strike situation. They are also
adding and deleting lines as they operate or not during a strike.
Now, I don't know how MTC handles things, so I won't speak to that.
But certainly they could just take route maps and schedules and
build a database out of that, if they wanted to.

>> But a) they don't work and b) they replaced the old maps. Where can
>> I find a PDF version of the AC Transit system map? With the new
>> system, I can't.
>
>MTC has made a space available for this; if the agency hasn't put it
>up it is the fault of the agency. In this particular case I am the
>person responsible, but I haven't yet figured out the best way of
>putting up the new system maps. PDFs of them may be too big to be
>useful.
>

How so? The option should always be available to download a PDF file
of the system map. The compressed size should be reasonable enough
(at most 2 megs) to be worth a download, especially for broadband users.
And what was wrong with the old transitinfo method?

I think most people would agree that the GIS route maps provide too
little detail to be seriously useful in daily use.

>> (And speaking of which, they create a false
>> dichotomy between Transbay and local, when on some Transbay lines,
>> such as the F, N/NL, and O, there is significant local traffic.)
>
>Fare limitations with the trip planner.
>

Which, as I've mentioned, may not exist.

>> But the transit.511.org denies users the choices transitinfo provided,
>> and provides no additional benefit.
>
>It provides some choices, and takes away others. I am not suggesting
>that I agree with all the decisions that were made, but I can
>understand why MTC would want to have a process that allowed the
>agencies to update their own information, and have a single database
>that contained the information to be processed and distributed.
>

While the single database would be useful for trip planning, couldn't
a transitinfo-style page be generated from the results, instead?
(Or better yet, links to the schedules in question.) That's what the
old, non-511-ized iteration of the trip planner did.

What choices does transit.511.org provide the transitinfo didn't,
aside from the dubious GIS mapping?

>As for "popular destinations", I personally think this is a good
>thing, wish that we had done it first. Yes, travel guides exist; few
>of them are focused on transit.
>

AC Transit did do popular destinations, five years ago. They published
a nice color brochure on all the places you could get to with the
Class Pass. AC Transit said that they would update the information
and publish a new edition if Berkeley students voted for the Universal
Class Pass. Berkeley students waited, voted in a doubling of the fees,
and are still waiting. (And no, it's not your fault, I know that AC
Transit has been hard hit by the sales tax decline, and the Class Pass
doesn't even make up for it.)

>Clearly the GIS maps are broken in some ways. But I am not convinced
>they will always be broken, or that they are completely useless now,
>and I am convinced that being able to click on a map and have the
>system respond intelligently to your location selection is very
>useful.
>

But the old transitinfo trip planner did that fine. There's no need
to reinvent the wheel, or throw out all the old Reineck & Reineck
maps which were fine with it.

>> >I think it's much better for the user to use HTML tables for
>> >schedules[...]
>>
>> Except that it makes it lynx compatible.
>
>Yes, it's unfortunate that lynx doesn't handle this. But the last time
>I was in the San Francisco Public Library most of the terminals had
>been replaced by GUI terminals of some type or other. I question the
>validity of making it worse for lots and lots of people just because
>the people working on lynx haven't got tables working properly yet.
>

Fair enough, but the access to the accessibility mode is cumbersome.
When someone clicks on the "skip navigation", a cookie could be set
to ensure that the default is the accessible schedules, not the
IFRAME'd ones. Preferably, the whole IFRAME should just be dropped.

>> I do, though. Not all critics of the new transit.511.org think alike.
>> I would even go as far to say that just putting the schedules on
>> as PDF would be superior to the slop we have now.
>
>That would work for some agencies; not for AC, where we print them in
>odd sizes like 15x21. Not very printable, really.
>

MTA has some awful-sized schedules that are 7x19, and they put
the schedules up in PDF format. With Acrobat 6's ability to print
a view, and the print preview mode, those concerns that you have
are beginning to diminish.

>> Then why, in the above linked schedules, does the AC Transit F line have
>> different schedules between transitinfo and transit.511.org?
>
>Because it's broken. I don't know why specifically. We asked them to
>return to Transitinfo until our December signup when AC will be going
>to a new scheduling system internally.
>

That is the case for non-Transbay routes, but the F schedule on
transit.511.org still has those odd times and no midday service.
transit.511.org continues to link to its own database for
Transbay service.

>> Perhaps having direct connections to transit
>> agencies is not necessarily a panacea.
>
>Nothing's a panacea. In this particular case it's almost certainly
>some human error. They apparently have been entering a lot of AC
>Transit data manually. That will change in December. (The current
>scheduling system AC Transit uses is apparently cruft from the 1980s.)

With that, hopefully more changes will be made to the scheduling
themselves, like (ahem) making the 51 schedules realistic.


--
Hank Fung fun...@ocf.berkeley.edu

Richard Mlynarik

unread,
Nov 11, 2003, 11:45:31 AM11/11/03
to
From: fromu...@priven.com (Aaron Priven)
Date: 5 Nov 2003 11:10:15 -0800

[...]

For what it's worth, having met a lot of the people involved in this,
I think they are well-meaning and don't really deserve the level of
opprobrium ("evil") placed upon them in this group. It's pretty easy
to call people "evil" whom you've never met.

I think they're totally incompetent (from technical and
information provision viewpoint -- which are supposed to be THE POINTS
of a public service web service) and rent-seeking pig-fuckers (from a
business perspective.)

My opinion won't change if I meet them. It's based upon what they DO,
which is far more important than how many polite smiling children they
support using the cash they've extorted from MTC, or whatever else it
is which is supposed to make them nice. As a corporation, they've
taken one of the VERY BEST TRANSPORTATION INFORMATION SITES IN THE
WORLD -- and certainly the best in the USA -- and made it ONE OF THE
VERY WORST.

And all that took only a year of "effort" and a few million dollars of
public money.

Simply put, the oxygen rations of everybody involved in this fiasco
should be revoked. Retroactively.

Remember that these are the people who brought us the trip planner,
which for all its faults *is* a major improvement for people --
unlike most of us in this group -- who are not terribly familiar
with transit in the Bay Area.

The trip planner is another technical and user disaster, not so by the
way.

Look, it's this simple: anybody who writes a web service (eg the trip
planner, eg transit.511.org) which runs only on a Micro$~1 server is
not only a technical incompetent, but is also a total asshole for
funnelling public revenues directly into a monopolists' pocket in
return for an unreliable, unstable, unmaintainable, inadequate and
glacial ("transit.511.org is experiencing growing pains") pile of
steaming operating system and web server filth.

And that's before we even get to tiny little issues like the
moronically bad trip planner not having ANY understanding of
interlining. (After all, only one transit line runs along Market
Street in San Francisco, right?)

Even ignoring the laughably bad "plans" the planner would produce
(I sent hundreds of suggestions back in the day when people were
actually trying to improve the transit information service rather than
wanking themselves into a frenzy at the thought of using HTML 4.0
iframes), the damned Micr$hit-dependent crock was out of service a
significant percentage of the times I tried to use it.

I think the GIS maps -- when they work, and certainly not replacing
the value of regular maps -- are nonetheless valuable as an
addition.

They're a fucking abomination, Aaron.

STOP DRINKING THE KOOL-AID!!!!!!

Look at pretty much any other maps on the web and compare.

Look at the extraordinarily high-quality maps from real cartographers
formerly served up by transitinfo.org.

There is absolutely nothing which can be said in favour of the
rent-seeking pig-fuckers.


Searching for things by map is a useful feature, especially if you
know where you are but not the difference between VTA and SamTrans.

Whoop de doo. I tell you what, I'd implement that for transitinfo.org
FOR FREE. Now MTC can reclaim the millions of dollars thrown at "brain
damanged Spatial" and redistribute it to the transit operators, so
they can do something USEFUL with it -- like run a bus, rather than
spending weeks deciding just which combination of Javascript pop-ups
is likely to result in the greatest annoyance.

Richard's insistence that one wants a transit map rather than a
walking map when one has reached one's destination in the trip planner
still baffles me.

Where the fuck does the bus run? What are the previous streets before
my stop? Where the fuck do other busses run? What other alternatives
do I have which the unspeakably bad trip planner did not deign to
suggest to me?



I also think it's a good idea to allow the user to choose whether
to show trips as columns (as on printed Caltrain schedules) or as
columns (as on most other schedules). That allows people to have
their choice. Isn't that the basic principle behind the idea of
letting the user choose his or her own font size, window size,
etc.?

Look, Aaron.

brain damaged Spatial have taken a web site which QUICKLY AND
ACCESSIBLY AND UNANNOYINGLY served up TRANSIT TIMETABLES and TRANSIT
MAPS and produces something which is both far slower and COMPLETELY
UNUSABLE.

Nobody who is not on the payroll of brain damaged Spatial or the
Mteropolitan Transportation Calamity could believe for a microsecond
that the 554 pixels high by 360 pixels tall format into which the
rent-seeking pig-fuckers have confined the timetables, nor the
UNSPEAKABLY ILLEGIBLE 270 pixels wide by 260 pixels tall maps (have
your SEEN the legend which is supposed to explain what is going on in
these abortions?) is an improvement on ANYTHING.

(Oh by the way, none of the maps on the site seem to work at all at
present. One of those "growing pains" one should expect from a
multi-million public dollar contract, along with breaking tens of
thousands of links to what should have been PERMANENT URLs, I suppose.
Pig fuckers.
Try visiting
<http://transit.511.org/schedules/routemap.asp?cid=SF&rte=5624> -- and
remember, kids, the "&rte=5624" means "route=48", and we can rely on
it having that meaning for a good two weeks, I'm sure -- and clicking
on anything. "Zoom in", on the map, on the N/S/E/W/HW/etc arrows.)

As for "no website should choose a font," I disagree: in general style
is important in getting across a message and that is what
communication is about. Subtext matters.

Aaron,

Quite simply, fuck you and the Web Design Pinhead horse you rode in on.

Let's see: I'm sitting in my house with my kewl DSL connection and my
ultra-reliable Micro$~1 Windows Peecee wondering what I'll do today.

I know, I think I'll go to Antioch for the day!

But how will I get there?

Well, should I drive, or should I TakeTransit(sm)(r)(c)(tm)?

I visit 511.org, because all those MTC advertisments everywhere have
told me that's the hip cyber chat-room that all the dot com winners
and foxy geek chicks hang out at.

But horrors!!! Imagine (in a parallel universe) I were to find that
they are using THE VERY FONT I CHOSE FOR MY BROWSER. And there is NO
BACKGROUND COLOUR ON EVERY WINDOW. And the site DOESN'T USE ADVANCED
JAVASCRIPT NAVIGATION. And I get the answer I was looking for IN
UNDER A MINUTE!

Well, screw that! I'm going to drive! Those people just clearly
aren't on the bleeding edge of dot com web design. I only consider
products and services from happening web sites straight out of the
lime and tangerine pages of Wired Magazine! Fuck Google and
transitinfo.org, those stone-age losers! They need to pay a Web
Design Consultant, perhaps from a high quality and successful
government-job-soliciting outfit like brain damanaged Spatial, to learn
about how to create "sticky" sites which "attract eyeballs" and yield
profits, profits, profits! Pop-ups and pull-downs forever!!!!!!

Dude! I'm never riding transit again. Not until they get with the
HTML 4.2++ program!



In this particular case I agree that style should be pretty
subordinate to the practicality of using the site, and the
images-of-text don't add much, especially since one of those
headings is in text anyway, and is a pain to download. Adding a
face specification is not unreasonable -- branding *is* useful, it
helps remind people what site they're on and thus helps them not
get lost.

Aaron,

STOP DRINKING THE KOOL AID.

Who THE FUCK gets LOST ON THE WEB?

You see that little box at the top of your browser which says
"http://google.com"? That's the thing which tells you you're at
google.com, and not, say at http://www.gistrans.com/

(<RENT-SEEKING PIG-FUCKER RED ALERT!!!>
<RENT-SEEKING PIG-FUCKER RED ALERT!!!>
<RENT-SEEKING PIG-FUCKER RED ALERT!!!>
<RENT-SEEKING PIG-FUCKER RED ALERT!!!>

<!-- The brain damanged Spatial web site REQUIRES FLASH -->

<html>

<head>
<title>BD Spatial Comps</title>
</head>

<body leftmargin=10 rightmargin=0 marginwidth=10 topmargin=10>

<object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000"
codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=5,0,0,0"
width="700" height="500">
<param name=movie value="intro.swf">

<param name=quality value=high>
<embed src="intro.swf" quality=high
pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/index.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash"
type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="700" height="500">
</embed>
</object>

</body>

</html>
</RENT-SEEKING PIG-FUCKER RED ALERT!!!>
</RENT-SEEKING PIG-FUCKER RED ALERT!!!>
</RENT-SEEKING PIG-FUCKER RED ALERT!!!>
</RENT-SEEKING PIG-FUCKER RED ALERT!!!>

Apparently this is one of their mechanisms for ensuring that _only_ the
most stupid and gullible agencies in the world seek out their services.)



Albeit I agree that if it were defined in CSS, then the teeny
proportion of people who override site-specific style sheets for
whatever reason could continue to do so.

Fuck that. I want to see stuff in a font of my choice at a size of my
choosing on a neutral background without fucking around with any CSS
bullshit.

That's what USING DEFAULTS is about.

There is SIMPLY NO REASON FOR A TRANSIT INFORMATION WEB SITE TO HAvE
ANY BUSINESS SPECIFYING FONTS OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT.

Having said that, I do agree that the *sizes* should be left to the
user. In general I do agree that the site has unfortunately fixed the
display size (although for me this is not as bad as the AC Transit
home page, which has text that's practically too small to read on my
screen), and the "iframe" thing is not necessary since the reader is
perfectly capable of using the scroll bars within the browser window
to accomplish this. The text-as-images don't seem to add much to me,
either.

OK. So we agree. The contractors are completely incompetent
rent-seeking pig-fuckers, who have severely DEGRADED the provision of
transit information in the Bay Area and provided ABSOLUTELY NOTHING OF
ANY POSITIVE VALUE.

I think it's much better for the user to use HTML tables for
schedules, with a proportional font, with full descriptions in the
titles rather than using the little abbreviations and forcing people
to look elsewhere for whatever they might mean. There's no real
advantage to plain text display.

Butt-simple <pre>...</pre> tables of the type formerly served up by
transitinfo.org do have the advantage of loading instantly (no need to
wait for the entire table to load to know how to layout the columns)
and working with even the most ancient browser in existence.

Sure, using HTML tables gives you vertical dividers between the
columns, but in practice -- years of practice of hundreds of thousands
of people using transitinfo.org and of reading printed timetables
(see Edwin Tufte's _Envisioning Information_ here, pages 54-55 for
example) -- this isn't any real advantage at all.

I could live with simple tables if they were forced on me, but there's
no good reason they should be. In the end, such "improvements" are
100% make-work for web weenies with time on their hands and no
interest in making functional improvements -- I've seen this time and
time and time and time and time again in my professional life over the
last decade.

I think the "printable versions" are pretty pointless given that they
will end up spreading themselves over several different pages
indiscriminately, but Richard wouldn't agree with me that a real
printable PDF ought to be made available that is designed to be
printed on standard letter-size paper so that it can be taken with the
person. (Those poor, poor people who are living in Europe who have A4
paper and who are planning to visit the US next week will have to
suffer with a reduced page. Darn.)

You can provide PDFs of the stuff which the agnecies provide for their
own printing purposes. Go ahead. Great. That's useful. Add a link
to the nice transifino.org pages, alongside the simple text links to
the map, the reverse direction schedule. the weekend schedule, etc.
Go for it. More power to you.

Just don't expect anybody to actually use the ON-LINE. PDF is utterly
and completely unsuited to that, as anybody by Adobe's maretroids
knows.

A number of transit providers have asked specifically for persistent
links to specific routes as well as to specific providers, and to make
these links public.

Of course the rent-seeking pig-fuckers have broken EVERY SINGLE LINK
IN THE WORLD TO EVERY SINGLE URL AT TRANSITINFO.ORG.

Finally, I wouldn't overplay how wonderful Dan and Mikael were at
administering transitinfo.org. As one of the people responsible for
getting them data, I can tell you that while they did their best, they
were not able to be responsive and update the material in a timely
manner in many cases.

I know. I had some problems, but they were understandable, given the
limited resources (ie having other lives) involved.

However, there's A VERY EASY WAY that COULD have been fixed.

MTC ****COULD**** have chose to pay somebody COMPETENT to MAINTAIN
transitinfo.org.

But instead the corrupt transit-destroying scumbags of that agency
chose to throw millions at RENT-SEEKING PIG-FUCKERS who took the best
part of a year to "redesign" and "relauch" a "new transit portal"
which is worse IN EVERY SINGLE WAY than the "obsolete" and
"unmaintained" site it replaced.

And just remember, for the last year or so while the pig-fuckers were
at work on the three-column navigation, their maximum of 25 bus lines
to choose from on one page, their Javascript pull-down menus, their
cookie serving, and their "my little transit pony" ("This
functionality is under development. ...") web page they were NOT
maintaining the information on transitinfo.org.

Recall that their corrupt paymasters at MTC were trumpeting their
fraudulent BART extension to Millbrae as the greatest development in
Bay Area transportation since, well, BART to Daly City, yet the Web
Design Professionals at brain damaged Spatial never got it together to
provide ANY information on ANY of the BART extension stations, nor to
provide useable timetable for train connections to the extension
stations.

I guess it's really hard work deciding exactly how to get iframes to
work, and they couldn't be expected to suffer the distraction of
letting the public know when the fucking trains are running when
there's High Level Web Technologist Work to be done with Micro$~1
Active Server Pages.



Whether the new group will be better is a
separate question, of course, but the system is designed so that
transit providers can directly update a lot of material, which is
generally a good thing.

Other than that, how did you like the play Mrs Lincoln?

KimmiKat40

unread,
Nov 21, 2003, 8:47:02 PM11/21/03
to
Here's NOT how to make a transit site. This one has Flash, sound and even
music on some pages. A little hard to use.

http://www.ridecarta.com/homeframe.html

Kim

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