The Talking Bus

Remember the Charlottetown Bus Schedule by Telephone I hacked together back in November? Well this morning as I stood at the University of PEI waiting for the bus back to the office I spotted a new blue and yellow Charlottetown Transit bus pulling into the parking lot with “The Talking Bus” emblazoned on it. “That’s weird,” I thought to myself, “I wonder how it talks.”

The Talking Bus

It turns out that it’s me making it talk, as further emblazoned on the side of the bus is the telephone number I set up, 367-3694:

The Talking Bus

What’s especially weird about this, other than it being a surprise, is that the telephone schedule remains a hack to this day — wired together with the masking tape and baling wire of a $2.50/month Eastlink virtual telephone number gatewayed through silverorange’s T1 into my own Asterisk server where a custom PHP application talks to the same MySQL database of stops and schedules that does.

Needless to say, it gives me no end of pleasure to see my Working for Free side-projects carved into public infrastructure.

If you’re interested in following along from home, the Charlottetown Transit Telephone Schedule Call Log has an anonymous record of the last 20 calls received.


Bob Shand's picture
Bob Shand on April 8, 2009 - 15:45 Permalink

Peter that’s very cool. Good job. Do you have any more details as to how to get the virtual telephone number?

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on April 8, 2009 - 15:55 Permalink

@Bob I have the benefit of having landlords with a digital trunk line, so I’ve been able to purchase a single number that flows first into their Asterisk box’s switch and then gets transferred to my own Asterisk box. The last time I checked it wasn’t possible to purchase a single “virtual” number, at least not without the expense of bringing in your own T1.

I use Vitelity for other DID numbers, albeit not local ones as they don’t offer numbers in the 902 area code.

Bob Shand's picture
Bob Shand on April 8, 2009 - 16:06 Permalink

@Peter — You guessed my reason for asking — I don’t have a home phone… ideally I’d like a 902 number in the Charlottetown area — I guess I’ll have to settle for the 1800 number I give to friends and family

oliver's picture
oliver on April 8, 2009 - 21:04 Permalink

Has the city or the transit department even sent you a thank-you note? It’s a more marvelous story if they didn’t and don’t even know where this is coming from—above the level of some unknown techie collaborating on the inside, that is. Still, I’d want some thanks.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on April 8, 2009 - 21:25 Permalink

I’m on good terms with Trius Transit, which operates the transit service under contact from the City of Charlottetown, and their manager is good about sending me updates about schedule changes, etc.

Nobody from the City of Charlottetown itself has ever contacted me about transit and the work I’ve done, but that’s okay by me.

Rob L.'s picture
Rob L. on April 9, 2009 - 03:34 Permalink

Well, let me be the first from the City of Charlottetown (on behalf of?) to say thanks for all your efforts on this project. It’s incredible actually. We are very fortunate to have you around doing all this Working-For-Free stuff. I heard about the Talking Bus a couple of weeks ago, and just assumed Trius had asked you, lest you decide to discontinue the service as the bus hit the road with your number on it. I guess that’s a measure of the faith the community has in you Peter. And that’s how we know you will somehow find the time to shoot and edit video each day for the Casa Mia Daily Specials!