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The Official MyBMTC App for Bangalore

Improving public transport accessibility & ease-of-use with real-time city bus tracking.

One of my favourite projects - the official MyBMTC app for the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation. A cross-platform (Android & iOS) app with live bus tracking, trip planning, and route information used by over 200,000 people.

Accurate, clear, and up-to-date information is critical for public transport to be an appealing alternative to private transport. While multiple attempts have been made in the past to build such apps and services, this collaboration with BMTC to rebuild their mobile app from scratch resulted in a highly accurate, reliable and user-friendly service for citizens.

Background

Back in 2015 - during a trip to London - I was thoroughly impressed by TfL's (Transport for London) robust and widespread real-time passenger information system. They had displays at bus stops showing riders live ETAs, along with open APIs for developers to build apps & services. I enthusiastically tinkered with their APIs & open data to build my own simple app which could track a bus route and automatically announce ETAs (estimated time of arrival).

Back home in Bangalore, in 2017, I decided to combine my app development skills with real-time bus data from BMTC's (unintentionally) open APIs at the time, to create my own mobile app. Building features such as a trip planner, stop departures board, and route tracker based on what I had seen in London, I released the app on Google Play in August 2017. My aim was to build a user-friendly and accurate app for citizens, unlike BMTC's existing official app which was plagued by bugs & issues.

With over 100,000 users over the course of a year - and significant media coverage of my app - I was approached by BMTC in 2019 to collaborate and rebuild the official bus tracking app for Bangalore.

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Work Done

From July 2019 to January 2020, I spent countless hours at the BMTC HQ to design a new mobile app from scratch, build backend systems, databases and server-side algorithms that were 8-10x faster than previous versions, and work with their operations department to ensure tracking information was up-to-date and reliable.

  1. Designed & built a cross-platform mobile app using the Flutter framework.

  2. Built backend systems for efficient delivery of real-time data with a Tomcat app server, RESTful APIs, and highly optimised MySQL databases.

  3. Created new algorithms in Java for automatically mapping buses to routes and using data from the bus network to build a custom ETA Engine for predicting traffic conditions & live arrival timings.

  4. Built a dashboard and 24x7 monitoring system for minimising downtimes and ensuring reliability of the app and servers.

  5. Collaborated with the Managing Director, Systems Director, and Head of IT & Operations to improve the accuracy of static & real-time data and publish the official app on the Google Play Store & Apple App Store.

  6. Generated a GTFS feed for sharing static data of the bus network with Google Maps, the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), and Bangalore International Airport.

App Features

  • Stops nearby (sorted by distance from current location)

  • Stop search with a live departure board

  • Route search (by route number, AC/non-AC and service type)

  • Route map (geo polyline) with route stops

  • Live vehicle position tracking on the map

  • ETA of vehicles at each stop along a route with vehicle license numbers

  • Bicycle rack indicator (for buses with bicycle storage capacity)

  • Trip planner with origin/destination search

  • Automatic stop selection if origin/destination is "My Location" (user's current location)

  • Direct trip options with recommended routes and real-time travel durations

  • Indirect trip options with recommended transit points & routes and real-time travel durations

  • Trip details with a map and step-by-step directions for origin, transit point, destination bus stops, along with route information and vehicle ETAs

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Media Coverage

The MyBMTC App received significant media coverage over the years, with tourists, students, commuters and various groups of citizens also expressing their appreciation for the app on social media.

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