At the top of the Georgetown Metropolitan has been a link to a page explaining how to use the test site for Nextbus. Once WMATA discovered that people were using the test site without their permission, they shut it down. Thus the instructions on GM’s page have been futile. But since July 1, Nextbus has been officially rolled out. Here is how to use it:
Select your route.
Select your stop.
If you used Nextbus’ website, you need to select a destination. Select “Show predictions for all vehicles”.
If you’re using the WMATA site, just skip the destination choice.
Find out what your wait is. You should bookmark this page in order to skip ahead next time you need it, particularly if you have smartphone (GM has his most frequent bus stops bookmarked in his blackberry).
WMATA Platform vs. Nextbus Platform
Nextbus offers two different websites: the standard and the simple. The standard website puts all these choices on one form. WMATA’s website essentially offers this same platform. The simple website makes you go through several different pages entering in the required information before giving you the results. Despite the added steps, GM prefers the simple website platform to the standard/WMATA platform.
The reason is that it offers you the ability to select all buses using a particular stop. For instance, if you are at P and 20th and want to know when the next D2 or D6 is, you can request information on both by selecting “show predictions for all vehicles” option.
The standard/WMATA platform offers this information slightly differently. It asks you for your destination and will give you the information for any route that goes there. So if you’re at P and 21st and want to go to Q and Wisconsin, it will still give you both the D2 and the D6. Even if you don’t enter a destination, it defaults to the next stop. So in this case it would give you all buses that go to P and 22nd, which would also give you the D2 and the D6. But say you’re at P and 22nd and want to take any bus over to Georgetown, including the G2. If you use the Standard/WMATA site, it won’t give you the G2 information since it doesn’t go to the next D2 stop (Q and 23rd). But if you use the simple website and select predictions for all vehicles, you’ll receive the G2 information too.
Also, the simple website offers two real time mapping programs (including a Google Maps version that lets you select multiple routes) and even the weather! The Standard/WMATA site only offers the Google Maps map, but doesn’t allow you to select multiple routes.
Either way, it doesn’t matter too much which one you pick. GM has been using it for a week now and finds that whiles there’s still a missing bus or two, it’s a great system.