Five years ago when 511.org replaced transitinfo.org, one nice feature that got eliminated is the automated schedule for Caltrain. The finder is very simple; all you have to do is to select which station you want to start from and which to go to and the site would spit out the schedule just for these two stops.
Even though 511.org and Google Transit can provide trip plans that involve Caltrain, both sites don’t have the simplicity and clarity of the old schedule finder. At those sites, you are generally expected to type the exact address of where you want to start from and go. You could type the name of the train station, but more often than not the web sites will not recognize it rightaway and will ask you to select the “correct” name.
But you really don’t need bus directions from your house to the train station, because you plan to drive, bike, or be dropped off there. With these trip planners, they may direct you to take bus, light rail or BART, but that’s not what you want because you can set your schedule around Caltrain.
BART already recognized that issue (partly I think because it doesn’t want to lose customers to AC Transit, Muni or Caltrain. 511.org and Google Transit will provide information about other agencies because they are agency neutral). BART has its own trip planner available on the front page of the BART’s web site. The same QuickPlanner can be embedded onto other websites.
Here comes the Caltrain QuickPlanner: http://www.transitunlimited.org/Caltrain
Very much like the BART QuickPlanner, it gives the times and fares for a specified station pair. This planner also provides estimated travel time and the number of stops the trains will make to help riders find the fastest trains available.
In addition, it provides information on train trips with timed transfers. For instance, if you want to go from Belmont to San Antonio during the peak hours, you’ll need to transfer at Redwood City. If you are going from Gilroy to San Francisco, you could transfer to a Baby Bullet train in San Jose for a faster trip.
This trip planner uses schedule data directly from Caltrain in Google Transit Feed Specification format http://www.caltrain.com/google_transit_feed/
Even though there are other automated Caltrain schedule finders out there (http://www.caltrain.com/schedule_mobile_devices.html), they’re either non-available or not-designed for regular computer use. These trip planners also don’t give schedules with timed transfers. A lot of people, including myself, don’t have iphones or a Blackberries, but we would like to have a simple trip planner that we can easily print out customized schedules.
Just like the BART QuickPlanner, this planner can be embedded on your own web site by inserting the following code onto your pages:
<iframe name=”Caltrain QuickPlanner by Transit Unlimited” height=”230″ width=”263″ scrolling=”no” border=”0″ frameborder=”0″ src=”http://apps.transitunlimited.org/caltrainembed.html“>
Nice work, Andy! Glad you found the schedule feed helpful. BTW, I’d like to invite you to join the Transit Developers mailing list and post about this app.