Mississauga Transit's Online Trip Planner



When Mississauga Transit’s paper Ride Schedules were no longer issued as of 2004, all schedules from 2005 and on could only be viewed from the system’s website. In November 2005, MT released its first online trip planner. This application offers the user with a graphical interface which enables the user to plan a route between two geographical locations with just a few clicks of the mouse. By typing in or selecting the place of origin and the desired destination, the planned start time for their trip, in just about 5 seconds, the website refreshes into a new page with your requested trip plan. With its need for user participation, the Mississauga Transit Online Trip Planner is an excellent example of a well-designed interactive virtual technology.


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Upon entering the site, the graphical interface presents 4 chronologically ordered modules of a similar layout with correlating titles. For example, Module 1 would be your origin “FROM”, Module 2 being your desired destination “TO” and Module 3 is the time you wish to start your trip, “WHEN”. Modules 1 and 2 both have alternate tabs which presents all the categories of destinations such as landmark, intersections, bus stop numbers and addresses that there could possibly be, including locations outside of Mississauga. Namely, these places neighboring in close proximity such as Brampton, Oakville, and Toronto. A special feature in Modules 1 and 2 is the “Recent” tab, in which the dropdown list consists of previously selected or entered locations so the user does not have to repeatedly enter the same information day to day. The tab currently in use will always be in gray and connected to the rest of the module, making it visible and easily known to the user which tab is currently in use. The tabs not in for, for example, stop number, intersection and so on, will be in orange. All of the information that the user needs to enter is evident through the obvious presence of drop down list arrows and input boxes which are common amongst most websites, therefore making it easy to learn how to use. Module 3 allows the user to select the date and time of their departure and also the flexibility of their time, enabling the user to plan out trips they might not even take for another day or two, or even in a few hours. The last module is the travel options in which you can select if you want the fastest trip, a trip with the fewest transfers or shortest walks. You can also consider school routes and if you would like or need your trip to be able to accommodate to people with accessibility needs. Once the user has planned a trip, they can also choose to see a more detailed description of the plan or alternate trip plans. Efficiency: With its large range of utilities, this application does more than just support its users in carrying out their tasks, but also accommodating to their lifestyles and varying schedules. It is readily available to all users with internet access on a 24 hour basis and requires no waiting. The designers of the Click n’ Ride Online Trip planner seriously took every aspect of interactive design combined trip-planning into a whole new level.

If a user is confused about how to operate this graphical interface, each module has a question mark icon on top of it which the user may click on to inquire help with their needs. Once the user has planned their desired trip, options such as a later start time, an earlier start time, alternate trip plans and other such alternatives are readily available for the user. Users can also plan trips ahead of time by selecting different dates in Module 3.

The graphical interface of the Online Trip Planner, especially in Modules 1 and 2 which include tabs that look like file folders makes the user experience a familiar and enjoyable one because it reminds the user of real life objects, like file folders in a office. This integration of familiarity with a new virtual concept succeeds in ensuring the most optimal experience for the user.

With many Mississauga residents using the transit system to commute, such a service was inevitable. Given people’s current demand for fast services in all aspects of daily activities, technology has devised a system incorporating a speedy response to the users’ interests and effective usability goals. This technology accommodates to the users’ needs in their everyday lives with a simple and easy to use interface and it grants users with ideal traveling solutions, increasing efficiency for both the users and the transit system. Online trip planning has most definitely resulted in less confused and more knowledgeable transit goers.




References:
Click n’ Ride Online Trip Planner - http://www4.mississauga.ca/clicknride/StartTVPForm.aspx
Wikipedia: Mississauga Transit - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississauga_Transit