Buster App Review

App Store - $1.99

As of 02.20.2012

Buster App in Action

Underrated, Overused

One of the most outstanding achievements in technology has been the implementation of public transportation tracking, and its availability to the public via the Internet. Apparently vehicle tracking systems these days typically use GPS or GLONASS technology for locating the vehicle as it traverses terrain. I have no idea what Chicago’s CTA buses and trains use, but I sure appreciate that they’ve implemented it over the past several years. Even though they don’t have displays at all of their bus/train stops, the CTA website performs fantastically well (and accurately) as an estimation tool for when to expect arrivals and transfers.

While the site works on mobile browsers, it isn’t design as elegantly as it ought to be. Touch targets are designed for some backasswards pre-2007 mobile phone browser, and there is no way to quickly access commonly frequented routes (unless you were to bookmark the starting point of each one). We must then let expect the digital marketplace to provide a better solution.

Enter Buster App

And the marketplace did answer.

While Buster app isn’t the only CTA app available on the App Store, it’s by far the best. You could argue it’s merely a glorified skin for the CTA mobile websites for tracking buses and trains, but you’d be wrong. It’s a clever integration of the data available through CTA’s bus/train tracking systems and the conveniences therein of an app that allows for the following perks:

  • Saving favorites
  • Identifying nearby stops for quick access
  • Easy switching between cardinal directions at a selected stop
  • Checking time estimates between transfers (i.e., you’re tracking one bus and checking when that bus will arrive at another stop to transfer buses)
  • Sort by route or name
  • Notifications for next bus arrivals

These are useful, convenient features that accelerate your accessibility of CTA times and ensures your trips along the oftentimes unreliable CTA are maximized.

Well Designed

The design considerations for Buster follow Apple’s Human User Guidelines to a T. Tabular navigation at the bottom of the screen, status bar visible at the top (useful for keeping an eye on the time as you browse), correctly sized tap targets, considerations for the high resolution displays, and neat use of location services for finding nearby bus stops. The contextual tabs at the top (switching between Sort by Bus/Sort by Name, for instance) and contextual back buttons (for instance:

And as a utility app, Buster deserves homepage placement. If I’m going anywhere other than downtown Chicago for work, this thing is tapped constantly. I’ll easily plot a route and maintain my expectations with exacting precision. If we weren’t so desensitized with the incredible feats of technology, the experience of using Buster would feel very much like precognition.