Melbourne will soon get better public transport apps as the government agency responsible for all public transport in the state – Public Transport Victoria – has finally released its timetable data to the public. This means developers can create their own apps with accurate timetable data for trains, trams and buses.
Before the release of timetable data, PTV would insist that those who are looking for public transport data to use their website or their iOS app. They also have an Android app on the Google Play store under their former name “Metlink”, but it looks like it has been abandoned by PTV – the last update was on July 24, 2011.
There were third-party applications for other platforms (including Android and Windows Phone) but their accuracy varied because they were finding ways around PTV’s reluctance to give them access to the timetable data. In one case, an app said that I needed to take two buses to get to my university, ignoring that there was already a bus route that would take me to university without swapping buses.
So what’s in the API for developers? Other than timetable data, PTV has also included the line and stop information for all modes of transportation – including the stations’ GPS coordinates. However, unlike Sydney’s public transport API, it does not include real-time tracking. That said, the documentation notes that this might be coming soon in a future update to the API.
The API documentation can be found on data.vic.gov.au and PTV promises to update the data every week to take into account any timetable changes due to holidays, planned disruptions or events such as PAX Australia.