When we first told folks about Muni’s proposal to have riders to use 511, not (the pricey) 311, to find out when the next bus would arrive, people started talking about how bad 511 sucks.


And, yeah, we hear you — the website is rough, and, please, do not get us started on the trip planner. But, after our douchery mockery yesterday, we’re impressed to see Muni already making some changes to how they get their users arrival information.

First, on their web site (see above), NextBus is now telling you to use 511 for next bus information, with the additional bonus of a picture of the cell phone we had in 1997.

Next, here’s the mobile app for NextBus yesterday, and, at left, you can see how it looks today. See that “(#16104)” beneath the stop street names, or the “15197” under the red phone on their site? That’s new, as of late last night.

And that’s your stop ID number. This is great to have, because this makes it even easier to get predictions from 511. As Judson (somewhat accusingly) said to us yesterday, “not everyone has an iPhone, but most people have cell phones, and they need to be able to call to find out when the bus is coming.” So now, handheld free folks can call 511 and just enter the stop ID number instead of navigating through a tree of options to quickly and easily get info on when the next bus will arrive at their stop.

Of course, neither Muni nor NextMuni is explaining this stop number thing just yet, but that’s what we’re here for. Here’s what we think you should do: keep track of your most used stop numbers, make a note in your cell phone or write it down and put it in your wallet or whatever. You can figure it out. Then, when you need to know when the bus is coming, call 511, enter your stop number, and there you go. Muni saves some money, you know when your bus is coming with the minimum of 511-phone-navigation muss, and we’re all just a tiny bit happier.

Additional reporting: Matt Baume

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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