What is real-time?

8 July 2020

Real-time has been a well-known feature for commuter train users for years and has recently become a part of bus users’ habits. In the Chrono app, real-time information is used to show the actual positions of buses and trains on your map so that the schedules you see are more accurate.

The real-time feature is a precious tool for busy commuters, no matter the time or place. How does Chrono manage to provide recent and reliable information all day and night? This article explores the world of real-time.

Data: static or dynamic?
Public transportation schedules have traditionally been collected through a specific file type called a General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS). This file enables web-hosted trip-planning apps to gather information from many service operators. GTFS files were developed by Google and are now used all around the world.

Before real-time, GTFS files contained static information that was updated periodically whenever there were changes to schedules or services. With the advent of GTFS-realtime files, schedules and routes can now be updated on the basis of real-time information. A device aboard the vehicle relays its GPS position so that this information can be used to locate the train or bus on a map and offer schedules that are more reliable.

Help! Where is my bus?
Technology is a wonderful ally in our day-to-day lives, but nothing is perfect. What are some common problems with the real-time feature?

  • GPS devices: Without the information from the GPS device aboard the vehicle, Chrono is unable to locate your train or bus. There are certain situations where the device might have been turned off or could be faulty.
  • Processing of real-time information: The app receives information about the vehicle’s position every 15 seconds. If it takes too long to process the information, this could cause problems in displaying the most recent position.
  • Poor connection: Static schedules are always available, even without a connection to WiFi or cellphone data. However, you must have a connection to access real-time schedules. Being in a tunnel or some other such area could affect your connection and make it difficult for the app to relay the most recent information.

If you are experiencing ongoing issues, please reach out to our support team. We’ll be happy to help. Here’s a tip to make your Chrono experience the best it can be: Make sure to update your app whenever possible! The Chrono team is working to make the app the best tool for your public transit trips in the greater metropolitan region.