Since I’ve seen surprisingly few wrapup posts about it (only Tara’s and Alexa’s), I’ll go ahead and say that last month’s TransitCampBayArea event was a real treat, surpassing the expectations of pretty much everyone that I talked to. Here are some of my highlights from the event:
• Mike Smith, Director of Engineering at NextBus, urging transit developers and riders to rise up and demand a bus-tracking API from NextBus and its client agencies. What are we waiting for?
• Seeing so many local agency folks realize how they could make good use of the energy and ideas of indie transit developers, simply by being willing to talk to them (rather than reflexively trying to shut them down).
• On the flip side, seeing transit hackers and activists learn about the challenges and constraints that the agencies are fighting as they try to offer better service.
• Having the chance to give a talk with Chris Messina and Bryce Nesbitt about transit mashups from both inside and outside agencies. As the first morning progressed, we realized that our planned talks all worked into the same message, so we rejiggered things so that my lightning tour of the third-party sites on the wiki led right into Chris’s story of how IamCaltrain got built in 24 hours, into Bryce’s point that even more things would get built if more transit agencies would share their information with developers in a reusable format.
• Seeing people brainstorm cost-effective ideas to help agencies with their problems (like getting local design schools to help improve BART signage).
• Hearing that the MTC was planning to provide a feed of regional schedule data in machine-readable format.
• Working with a mix of hackers and agency folks on a lightweight transit service alert (micro?)format. Bryce set up a group to continue the discussion.
• Getting to meet so many progressive-minded agency folks and transportation hackers, some of whom I only knew from email (like Aaron Antrim), and others that I was meeting for the first time (like Mark Simon and Logan Green). The event was such a blur that I wish I had gotten more cards. Don’t hesitate to shoot me an email!