Just over a year ago I released the Charlottetown Bus Schedule by Telephone service, a hack that combined the data from the Charlottetown Bus Schedule with some Asterisk magic and a spare voice-over-IP telephone number to make schedule information for the main University Avenue bus line in Charlottetown available over the telephone at (902) 367-3694.
Like the work I’d done earlier with wrapping maps and mobile apps around bus schedule information, I did this as a free public-service project: I want more people to use the bus, and if it’s in my power to give them information to help them do this, I have an obligation to do so, I reasoned.
Five months later I received the delightful surprise of seeing one of the buses that serves the route re-branded as The Talking Bus, making about as obvious and powerful an advertisement for the telephone service as I could imagine.
The telephone information service has been running for a year now. Here’s a summary of the results so far (information that’s always been available, day by day, over here):
- 2,278 calls have been received in total, or 6 a day on average.
- On the busiest days, October 27, 2009 and September 14, 2009, 26 calls were received.
- There was at least one call received on 334 of 371 days the service has been operating.
- Calls have been received from 651 distinct telephone numbers.
- Almost all of the calls were from area code 902 (Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island), with a smattering from Alberta, Ontario and other places.
- Almost 75% of calls came from mobile phones (exchanges 314, 940, 218, 626, and 393).
- The popularity of the stops for which specific schedule information was requested:
- UPEI Student Centre
- Confederation Centre
- Charlottetown Mall
- Atlantic Superstore
- Sea Treat Restaurant
- Wal-Mart/Old Navy
- Royal Bank/Coop
- Atlantic Technology Centre
- Sobeys/Farm Centre
- The most popular time to call was between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. 10% of calls were received during that hour.
The operating cost for the service, which I pay from Reinvented’s pocket, is $3.00/month for the 367-3694 telephone line and $20/month for a share of the digital phone line running into the server room here, for a total of $276/year. Or about 12 cents per call processed.
By contrast to all of this, the telephone service’s older web-based cousin, TheBus.ca, received 15,381 unique visitors during the same 12-month period.
All in all I think it’s been a successful project, and one that’s worth continuing. As always, I welcome suggestions for improvements.