Thousands of students use Eatery every day on their iPhones to look up menus and meal times. Over hundreds of students have taken a development or design training course to learn more about software development. And one team is behind all of this and the latest solution to ride the TCAT bus system: Cornell AppDev.
Ithaca Transit is an end-to-end navigation app combining the best features of available transit apps into one simple design. The app prominently features live tracking and updates, an immensely useful feature for anyone who has waited in the cold for a bus. Leveraging the MyStop API that TCAT recently integrated their vehicles with, the app lets users know where the bus is and how late it will be. Ithaca Transit is also integrated with Google Maps and Search, so you can just search for a location like “Chipotle” and the app will provide any necessary walking directions and transfer options to your location. Users can even add favorite bus stops and destinations to their home page.
For years, one of AppDev’s top requests was to create a bus app for Ithaca. For years, users had to pinch and zoom PDF files on TCAT’s website, or pay money for a clunky third-party app. In Fall 2016, AppDev members began designing a TCAT solution while simultaneously developing Big Red Shuttle, an app with schedules and information about Cornell’s late night bus service. The Ithaca Transit team hit several obstacles developing a reliable backend service to calculate routes. The TCAT company was in the process of creating GTFS data for Google Maps, limiting the team’s options to using a set of files for a few months or scraping information from the website. Various algorithms were considered and tested, including the RAPTOR algorithm powering London transit and custom implementations by backend developers. Eventually, TCAT properly formatted their data for usage, and the team integrated an open-source routing solution to power the app.
Ithaca Transit received multiple awards at the 20th annual BOOM showcase for Cornell student projects in cutting edge technology, with recognition from Amazon and EY. Two other AppDev projects also received awards: CU Here, an augmented reality campus tour app, and Uplift, a fitness app for Cornell. Looking forward, the Ithaca Transit team hopes to develop new features like real-time bus alerts, as well as create a mobile website to access the service. You can even help contribute to the app on AppDev’s GitHub page, where all of their open-source apps are hosted.
Ithaca Transit is one of the latest apps to be released by Cornell App Development, an engineering project team founded in 2014 first dedicated to building mobile applications. Comprised of over 40 members, the team designs, develops, and ship software from the ground up. They offer three training courses for class credit, where interested students can learn more about iOS Development, Digital Product Design, and Principles of Backend Engineering. For the first time ever, AppDev is holding a Hack Challenge, where members of the various training course will build their own project and compete for sponsored prizes from companies like Airbnb, Bose, Google, and Microsoft. The team has grown beyond the original founders’ wildest dreams, and there’s no telling what they’ll do next!