Friday, October 20, 2017

Cutting down on waiting times

I wrote in a previous post that I got a new job in the city. While I love the job and the work I am doing because it is both challenging and I get to learn a new thing almost every day, there is one real inconvenience I have to face every day. That is commuting to work.

I have gotten used to the 1hr commute on the public transport. On a perfect day, it can be 50 minutes, but it can stretch as much as hours and 20 minutes. The actual I am on the move is about 35 minutes: 5 minutes on the bus, 15 minutes on the tram and 15 minutes on the train. The additional time comes from the transfers.

The trams and the buses are the real pain because they can get delayed a lot depending on traffic. That doesn't mean trains are always on time, but they are at least on time more than the other two.

There isn't anything I can do about the buses but today I found out that I can do something about the trams. At South Yarra station, which is where I transfer from the train to the tram to go to work, there is a digital display which shows when the next three trams are going to arrive. But there is no such display at the tram stop where I get aboard the tram to return home.

  • On a good day, I will arrive there just time to catch the tram.
  • On a normal day, I will only have to wait for a couple of minutes before the tram arrives.
  • On a bad day, I will see the tram leaving, while I wait on the other side of the road not being able to cross to catch the tram. I have to wait about 10 minutes to catch the next tram.
  • On a very bad day, I will see two trams pass me while I wait on the other side of the road!
  • On a terrible day... I don't want to talk about it because cannot do anything about it.

If I knew when the tram actually arrives, I would know when to leave work, effectively scraping away the unwanted wait times. And guess what? There is an app for that!! That digital display at the South Yarra stop, right in my hand. So I know exactly when the trams arrive at my stop and I can plan my return a little bit better. Plus, it will also show my service disruptions as well, so that I can take another route.

This app is called tramTracker from PTV.

There are of course negative reviews about it on the Play Store, but that is to be expected. I thought 3.7 rating was pretty high for an app released by a government office. And I will also praise it until it drives me insane on of these days. But I feel that having the information handy is better than having a static timetable which is wrong more often than not when there is traffic involved.

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