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Photo: Occasional Transport/Screenshot

Not all heroes wear capes

Commuters are often left in the dark when it comes to notifications of problems with the new LRT line, but a local software programmer is trying to fill that gap of information on his own terms by creating a website called Occasional Transport, designed to notify users of delays and issues at stations. 

“I just built a website to plug the gaps (in OC Transpo’s communications) to help out people,” said software programmer Justin Kelly. “It started off as a joke website, for advertising that OC Transpo hasn’t made it 24 hours without a delay in about a month, but then turned out to be a bit more of a tool as people started to use it. Then OC Transpo started reporting less and it just evolved.”

Kelly created the site in his spare time and has started a Twitter account for Occasional Transport as well, both of which have been up and running for about two weeks.

The website and Twitter account not only act as a way to notify commuters of delays as soon as they develop, but has also become a method for Kelly to track how often delays occur at each station on the LRT line.

According to his website, there have been a total of 26 days of delays since Oct. 13.

While Kelly said he doesn’t commute using the LRT, he says the feedback and outrage from commuters on social media inspired him to create the site. His system often reports delays before OC Transpo’s Twitter does. 

“There definitely was a need,” said Kelly.

Kelly said he has spent $20 on the webpage, but most of the work comes from time spent maintaining and updating it. 

“It’s fairly time-consuming but it helps people out and I’m just trying to make (Ottawa) a better place.” He said he “pretty much spends every waking moment” updating the site, checking for notifications and hashtags every five minutes on his phone or online to see if there was a breakdown. Kelly also relies on people to send him alerts of train delays.

“Luckily, there are good people out there that are basically reporting through Reddit or Twitter, and I’m just constantly monitoring it,” Kelly added. “Now as the site’s getting better, people actually directly message me. At work, I’ll just get a buzz, I’ll update the website, and then everybody knows.”

Kelly said he’ll continue to maintain the website until there is no longer a need for it. 

“If the LRT runs perfectly fine for the next six months or so, demand will be pretty low,” he said. “But I think at that point, I’m going to just automate it.”