Love and Hate in the Time of NextBus

Photo by tantek

Kirk at Murfins and Burglars recently chronicled an emotional roller coaster he went through regarding NextBus. His first post spoke about the Muni-arrival tool with some contempt:

I’ve begun to notice that having that knowledge divides up my day into ten-to-fifteen minute chunks (the average length of time between buses), and that knowing when a bus is coming but being powerless to change that arrival time can be as stressful as it is convenient. …

It’s a little thing, but it is also constant, and starts to add up.

Sure, it was a little tongue-in-cheek, but it got the attention of Michael Smith (whom Muni Diaries once interviewed), director of engineering at NextBus. Which made our Kirk feel a bit bad. So he posted again on Monday about all the wonderful, life-altering things NextBus does for him:

I thought I’d list the ways in which NextBus makes my life way better. They are as varied as they are numerous.

Please read Kirk’s site, Murfins and Burglars, for the rest of the story. And share your feelings about NextBus (you’ve got some; we know you do) here in the comments.


  • AlexJB

    I love NextBus. Except for that feeling of exasperation and mistrust when I see the countdowns change in unexpected ways. I’m constantly re-evaluating my trip options based on nextbus.

    What I would really love to see is the nextbus screens for the underground trains up at street level. At least three times recently, I’ve swiped my fastpass to go down into the tunnel, only to realize that there was no train coming for 20 minutes, only to schlep back up to the street to see an F train taking off.

    On the flipside, I’ve started making more and more use of my mobile device to check nextbus numbers a few minutes before I need it. Thank goodness for the Inter-web-tubes!

  • The idea of NextBus is great, I think it’s improved my Muni experience dramatically over the years.

    But lately it seems like it hasn’t worked very well. Either the NextBus transponders on some trains/busses are turned off or they’re broken. It’s frustrating to change your route only to see a train that wasn’t listed pass you by.

  • loren

    i love nextbus, but i agree that lately it’s been spotty. it used to be accurate about 80-90% of the time i used it, which was awesome. the last few months it’s been much less accurate, especially on the weekends where it jumps around erratically quite often.

    and in the case of the N predictions on the weekends, they’re practically non-existent because you’ll get a “no prediction” or something ridiculous like “80 mins”, only to have one pop up minutes later when it’s less than 5mins away and you have to run like hell to catch it. this has become common place on the weekends, so i tend not to use it, go to my stop and hope for the best. what the hell nextbus?

    • Yes! It’s never accurate for the N. In the tunnel, the spoken voice will announce the next 2 or 3 trains. It will not mention the N Judah at all. Then suddenly, somehow, an N magically appears! Though, if you’re able to get a decent enough signal in the tunnel, the nextbus I access on my crackberry will say when it’s coming and is pretty accurate. But why that can’t be synced up with the signs and voice of the underground, I don’t know.

  • Yes, NextBus been quite spotty with the 38 and 38L lines lately, not sure what’s up with that. It has been okay with my other lines, but still depressing when it says 4 and 24 minutes for the 22. Sigh.
    I always think they need to make it entirely GPS based, and not rely on a schedule they obviously can’t keep.

    • loren

      when people tell me “just go look at the muni schedule” all i can do is laugh. it’s more of a series of optimistic suggestions than a “schedule”.

  • Rachael

    It always seems to be bad with the 38. It’s better with some lines than others and, notably, better in some POINTS of lines than others.

    My 29 inbound stop is always accurate and I’m really, really thankful that nextmuni exists because it helps me plan my morning. I know if I have a couple extra minutes to bum around the house or if I need to hightail it. When you have a long commute, you know that the 10 minute bus lag can actually mean a half hour lost.

    But my 29 outbound stop on the way home is almost never right, and I chalk that up to being so close to the beginning of the line. Someone once put up a little tag on the nextmuni sign on California/25th that said “this sign is a chronical (sp) liar” and I thought it was amusing.

    I can’t imagine life without it at this point, though.

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