Massachusetts Daily Collegian

PVTA mobile app now available on Android

By Lauren Tom

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For University of Massachusetts students who don’t own a car and want to take small trips outside of the campus having the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority bus services on campus can be very convenient.

But the convenience disappears when students are stuck waiting for their bus without a clue when the next one is coming or leaving

But after spending too much time waiting for the bus, Sam Erb, a recent UMass graduate, decided to do something about it. He created a free Android app that monitors the buses’ locations.

“The first time I was at UMass I could never figure out where the buses were and [the PVTA’s] website didn’t load very well on my phone so I went ahead and built it.”

The app, called “The PVTA Bus Tracker” shows where all of the buses are as well as the current area traffic.

Erb manages his own web server that updates itself at a maximum rate of once every 45 seconds, at which point all the devices using the applications will connect to his web server. The rate ensures that too much of a load or a strain is never put on the server.

Then the process is pretty simple. It grabs all the bus locations and tracks all the buses on PVTA website. From there, the application is easy to access and install.

Surprisingly, creating this app was easier than trying to provide a place for people to find and download it.

When Erb first started trying to distribute his app, he reached out to Apple.

“I actually created this application for the iPhone about two or three years ago while I was at UMass and the Apple app store actually rejected it saying that it was too ‘simple.’”

So, he decided to get rid of his iPhone and ultimately created the app for Google’s Android operating systems.  At the end of the day he said he was pretty satisfied with the switch because the Android phone was “easier to develop for than the iPhone.”

Despite its simplicity, he has no intention of updating this app any further.


The PVTA application is available and free right now in the Google Play Store. The app will remain free as  Google has a rule that doesn’t allow the price of an app to be raised if it starts out free.

Erb just wants it out there to help people.

So far, the app has been downloaded 80 times.

Lauren Tom can be reached at [email protected]

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