For anyone who uses the CTA to get around Chicago during the winter, it's important to have a good idea of when the next bus or train is coming before leaving your apartment or work in order to avoid freezing to death while waiting at the bus stop or train platform.
Luckily there are a lot of programs and apps you can use to track buses or trains from your computer or smartphone, including the CTA's BusTracker, AnyStop Chicago, Chicago Transit Tracker and HopStop. RedEye even has its own mobile transit tracker app.
But DePaul University seniors Shabbir Vijapura and Glenn Joseph felt like there was something missing from the transit tracker apps out there--so they decided to make their own.
Their brand-new app is Transit Buddy, and Joseph first came up with the idea last summer while waiting at a bus stop and feeling frustrated with his current transit smartphone app.
"I just thought, ‘Why don't we just create our own CTA app?' " said Joseph, a 21-year-old majoring in management information systems and minoring in finance. "We knew it would be a cool experience to work on something together on such a large scale, and if we made it for ourselves we could have all the features we wanted."
"There's really a vast amount of CTA apps out there, so it was almost like suicide to go into that market--but we really thought that what we had was something no other app has," said Vijapura, 22. "We were trying to create something that was easy enough to use that even someone from another state can come in and start using it."
What makes Transit Buddy different from other CTA apps is that it allows users to "favorite" their bus stop and stations and input their schedules so the app can match their regular departure times with incoming buses or trains.
The app has a push notification option that allows users to view their bus or train options at specific times without even opening the app.
"Ideally, this notification would happen as soon as you walk out the door, so you know exactly if you need to run--or walk--to the train or bus," said Vijapura, a computer science major with a concentration in software engineering. "We tested the app a lot before we actually released it, and we love it."
Vijapura and Joseph aren't the only ones happy with their new app. Since the app went live about two weeks ago, more than 2,000 people have downloaded it, and Joseph said the downloads don't seem to be slowing down.
"Since Day 1, it's gotten more and more downloads every day," he said.
Transit Buddy is already being used by some DePaul professors and students, like 22-year-old senior Harry Masuta, who said he will be using the new app as his main transit tracker from now on.
The app is available here.
Erin Vogel is a RedEye special contributor.
Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.