Our Mission, Governance and Projects

The purpose of this site is simply to make it easier for “transit appliances”, devices that display transit information, to be created and deployed in as many form factors and with as many interfaces as are useful, ranging from “countertop” devices like the Insignia Infocast, to flat-screen TVs, to ??? – the only limit is the imagination. We’re dedicated to making it easier for people to use transit by making it easier to be aware where and when the bus, or train, is going to show up.

Our proposition is that to do this, if as much of the common infrastructure, from configuration to the mechanics of fetching arrival information in a standard way, can be made an easily available as open source, commodity services, then the bulk of the creativity of the developer community can be applied to devices and display interfaces, where it can have the most impact.

So this site exists as a place to coordinate the development of those commodity services, and as a gathering point for the discussion and development of interfaces.

This site exists under the auspices of Portland Transport, an Oregon 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that is primarily known for publishing a transportation blog. But our non-profit status allows us to accept grants and tax-deductible contributions that may help further the transit appliance mission. Our immediate aspirations are regional, but we intend to allow our work to be useful in other transit districts where ever possible.

Welcome to the party! There are two projects that are definitely on our agenda:

  • A self-service interface for configuring what transit stops and lines show up on a given appliance (development began at the CivicWebs hack-a-thon and is well under way)
  • A standardized javascript object for retrieving arrivals from TriMet, so developers can focus on display, not plumbing. Potentially this will have an architecture to support plugins for other agencies.

Some other possible projects:

  • Tweaks to the Qt web browser for better startup and better use of screen real estate on the Infocast.
  • A “transit appliance” Linux distro that can be deployed on a USB stick to turn Atom or ARM PC’s connected to flat screen monitors or TV’s into out-of-the-box transit appliances.
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