Mumbai: BEST app is good but needs improvement

Updated: Aug 29, 2019, 08:20 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar

First look: We test the beta version of the city's bus-tracker and find that it doesn't match up to what Navi Mumbai app already offers for its buses

The test drive was conducted from Khodadad Circle to Ruia College and Maheshwari Udyan stretch along Dr Ambedkar Road on Wednesday
The test drive was conducted from Khodadad Circle to Ruia College and Maheshwari Udyan stretch along Dr Ambedkar Road on Wednesday

The BEST live bus-tracking app, to be launched before Diwali, is in its final testing stage. A test-drive of the app conducted by mid-day revealed that it has good features but has a lot of scope for improvement. However, BEST officials are of the opinion that it would be unfair to judge the app at this stage because it still has too many loose ends.

Test drive of the app, armed with Vivo 1819, Android 9, 6GB RAM and 2.1 GHz AI Octacore processor, was conducted from Khodadad Circle to Ruia College and Maheshwari Udyan stretch along the Dr Ambedkar Road to track long-distance buses.

The app has four key features — Plan Journey, Explore, Favourites and Timetable. On logging in, by default the Plan Journey page opens and asks for the point of origin and destination (picture 1). The tab next to it is Route. On entering the desired route number, the window did not open even after several attempts.

As per the test drive, the app is good for starters but has scope for improvement given the fact that it would soon become a reality
As per the test drive, the app is good for starters but has scope for improvement given the fact that it would soon become a reality

Search for a bus from Ruia College to Dadar, threw up several routes. The app shows the arrival timing of the bus but it is mentioned in small letters below the bus route. However, the approximate time to be taken from the origin point to the destination is more prominently displayed. Ideally, the expected arrival time of the bus should be more prominent (picture 2).

Also, one needs to manually go back to the home screen and click on the search routes again to refresh or update the bus timings. Though the timings change depending on whether the bus has got stuck in traffic, it does arrive at the updated time.

The next tab is that of Explore which gives a visual of the number of buses and bus stops in the area (picture 3). A glitch that the app is facing is that the GPS trackers in all the buses have not been activated yet and also one needs to be very precise with the names of bus stops. The next option is Favourites where one can plan and enter their regular routes. The Timetable section shows route-wise bus timings. Other features include a Lost Property section, SOS button and a Feedback section.

BEST app soon, but NMMT's is still better

As per the test drive, the app is good for starters but has scope for improvement given the fact that it would soon become a reality. However, BEST officials are of the opinion that it would be unfair to judge the app at this stage because it still has a number of loose ends.

Speaking to mid-day, Surendra Bagade, BEST general manager, said, "The BEST App will be the best in the market. You won't even have to wait till Diwali for its launch. It will be in the public domain soon. It is in the final testing stage and will have interesting features. The same company that developed the Transport For London app is working on it. The software, algorithm and the cloud data integration of the fleet are very interesting. Just wait and watch."

Also Read: A day after reduced fares, BEST faces bus shortage

Testing time

As part of the app's beta testing process, a number of transport experts and BEST enthusiasts checked it as well. Senior transport expert, Ashok Datar, said, "The basics are in place and it is a good app. The route part is working well. The Map on Mobile section with timings is satisfactory, although it does change due to traffic situations. The explore part is good, which shows how much one needs to walk to the nearest bus stop. The timetable looks good but is it adhered to? The destination part is not working. We will observe how it works in the next three to four days."

BEST bus enthusiast, Akshay Marathe, said, "The biggest issue is that hardly 5 per cent of the fleet is tracked right now. We have submitted a feedback regarding this." Another enthusiast, Harshad Joshi said, "I have sent them a lot of feedback and got positive responses as well. We will know whether the changes have been incorporated only when the app is updated."

Also Read: Mumbai: Despite fare cut, the maths doesn't add up for BEST

Navi Mumbai Bus App

The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation app has been in the public domain for some time now and one of its best features is the precise bus arrival time it provides, which automatically gets updated if there is a delay. Waiting at the Ruia College bus stop, it gave a precise arrival time for the selected bus on the route and it arrived at the same time (picture 4). The app also has an integrated ticket-booking feature. It also has a better look and feel overall and appears to be less confusing.

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