Finally, A CATA App That Doesn’t Suck
Last month, UPUA passed a resolution in support of the new Transloc Rider app to replace the headache that was the old CATA app. The new app promised to solve our woes including, but not limited to, the “teleporting bus” effect of the old app.
After using the new Transloc Rider app for a few days, I am pleased to report that it does, in fact, not suck.
This app serves as a universal transit tracking device, so it may be the last public transportation app you’ll ever need. That said, it does requires you to select your local transit system(s) from the app’s somewhat limited list, which are mostly all university bus systems.
When I first opened the app, it prompted me with transit systems based on my current location. However, Penn State’s campus shuttle was the only system that came up for me. This led me to the initial belief that the CATA loops and links weren’t included in the app, but as it turns out, I just had to manually select the Centre Area Transit Authority from Transloc’s list. I still don’t know why it doesn’t show up as a local transit system, but all’s well that ends well, I suppose.
The app itself is certainly an improvement over the old CATA app, but it isn’t perfect. It still suffers from the same tracking and “teleporting bus” issues, which appears to be a problem with the buses’ trackers themselves more than it is the fault of either app.
The new Transloc app compensates for these minor tracking issues by estimating the arrival times for each bus at each stop. When you click on any of the stops, the app displays how many minutes until the next bus will arrive. It also estimates the next two after it. As far as I could tell from using the app, these estimates are pretty accurate, if not very slight underestimates. To be fair, it’s better to be early than to miss the bus entirely.
Another nice feature is the ability to set alerts. That way, you will get a notification whenever a bus is anywhere from five to 30 minutes away from your desired stop. Now, you can catch the bus on time without having to monitor the app like a public transportation-taking hawk.
I personally like the fact that you can display as many or as few links, loops, and shuttles as your heart desires. The app also allows you to designate certain stops as favorites, so that you can view their arrival times with a quick tap of the heart button at the top of the home screen.
On top of its user-friendly interface, it also provides announcements that might effect your daily public transportation commute. For instance, it gave me this notification Tuesday night before the snowstorm.
Overall, the new Transloc Rider app is far and away more user-friendly than its older counterpart. Even if the tracking is subject to some of the same issues, its arrival estimations take the guesswork out of catching the whoop, bloop, or any other campus-servicing CATA vehicle.
Bottom line, I would give this app a solid four white loops out of five. It will definitely be my go-to when I have to go from the Meridian to the Ford building every Tuesday and Thursday at 9 a.m.