The new website of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority has launched today (Aug. 21, 2013), after being delayed for several months. The new website includes the basics of information about governance, as well as an iCalendar-compliant schedule of events.
The board had authorized the redevelopment of the new website two years ago at its Aug. 24, 2011 meeting. The site was described at the board’s Aug. 16, 2012 meeting as expecting a mid-September 2012 launch. It was then described as nearly ready for user testing at the board’s Nov. 15, 2012 board meeting. At the March 21, 2013 board meeting, the external testing was described as complete and focus-group meetings had been held. At that point a tentative May 2013 launch date was given.
Throughout the delay, it was described as resulting from the challenge in portraying accurately the position of buses in the real-time information system. At the June 20, 2013 board meeting, AAATA IT manager Jan Black explained that the AATA has routes that start in the morning and continue all day. So the route makes several “trips” in a day. [Black is recently married and might be familiar to readers as Jan Hallberg.]
At the end of a trip and the beginning of a trip, it had been difficult to see the change in status. For example, if Route #4 was arriving at Blake Transit Center, you could see that the direction of the bus was “to Ann Arbor.” But if its status stayed “to Ann Arbor” until it left the BTC, at that point it would be too late to tell the rider that the bus was headed back to Ypsilanti. Black explained that it was important that the real-time information changed to indicate “to Ypsilanti” while the bus was still waiting at BTC. The AATA’s previous developer was never able to fix this, and Black wanted to make sure that the issue was addressed before the website launched.