Late last night we released a new Facebook app, BART Departures.
You can use this app to see when the next BART train is leaving from the station of your choice. Once you’ve found the train you plan to take, you can click on the “I’m taking this train!” link and we’ll post a little note to your Facebook profile to let your friends know you’re on your way.
The application also displays the last few status updates from @SFBART on Twitter, so if there are delays or other unusualness with BART, it’s easy to see what’s going on.
Update: Got a few inquiries about whether it’d be possible to do something like this for Muni or Caltrain. The answer is that anything’s possible if we can get a reliable data feed containing arrival and departure times, but I don’t know of any for Muni or Caltrain. The problem with Muni is that they outsource their tracking to a private company (Nextbus) which doesn’t provide public APIs. When I inquired with them about this a few years ago, they gave me some cock-and-bull story about how the public agencies that they work for claim some sort of proprietary ownership over the data, which is nonsensical since our tax dollars pay for all this. More likely that the company is protecting the data because they think that by keeping it proprietary they’re protecting their own franchise.
Update: It looks like Caltrain doesn’t provide very good status updates, but there is an interesting crowdsourced effort to do so.