BART Mobile Website Case Study

Overview

Web Master Designs built a very basic mobile website for BART back in 2004/2005. It provided very simple pages that would work on most web enabled phones. In the time since that was launched, the whole "smart phone" industry has taken off, and it was time for BART to improve the look and feel of their mobile website as well as adding new functionality for smart phones.

Project

The project was initially scoped to replace the then current text-only WAP based wireless site. Eventually it grew to include new features including: Find a station, geo-location, and a much better graphical presentation. This project was done as sort of a background project when other BART initiatives were not pressing. As such, Web Master Designs took a more active role in the graphical design for this new site than ususal.

Solution

Building a completely new site from the ground up, Web Master Designs chose to use the newer XHTML Mobile 1.2 standard instead of the older WAP standard. This provided better cross-platform functionality on iPhone, Android and some Blackberry platforms.

Leveraging much of the logic and functions of the standard website, Web Master Designs was able to create a better mobile user experience, while still providing the same high quality information that BART users have come to expect. The QuickPlanner results were completely re-organized, providing the same information as the website, but in a much smaller, mobile friendly format.

Late in the project, BART asked that mobile geo-location be incorporated into the QuickPlanner and the Find A Station functionality. Using a code library from Google, Web Master Designs was able to seamlessly plug in the feature. Users on geo-location enabled phones or browsers can now select the "Use my location" link to pre-populate their reported position, providing directions from their current location. In addition, the new mobile website utilizes Google's mapping technology to provide address to address QuickPlanner results. The older wireless site was resticted to only providing station to station QuickPlans.

Results

BART is currently in a "soft-launch beta" phase with the mobile website, where it is available to the public, but hasn't been officially announced. We're hoping to get some feedback from early adoptors in order to work out any bugs or add user suggested features.

Client

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) connects the San Francisco peninsula with Oakland, Berkeley, Fremont, Walnut Creek, Dublin/Pleasanton, and other cities in the East Bay. For more than 35 years BART has provided fast, reliable transportation to downtown offices, shopping centers, tourist attractions, entertainment venues, universities, and other destinations for Bay Area residents and visitors alike. www.bart.gov