MyTransport.SG: Why LTA Really Killed the ‘Park-a-Lot’ iPhone App

A few days ago I wrote a post about how LTA had told Park-a-Lot developer, NiiDees, that his wildly popular iPhone app could no longer access real-time parking information from garages.

The reasons cited were that the information leased to LTA was only allowed to be shown on its site, and not through iPhone apps.  They also said that they would consider leasing the information out, for a hefty price I’m sure.  Thinking about it now, that in itself is a contradiction.  If the information was only licensed for their site, how could they license it out?

From an article in today’s online edition of the Straits Times titled “Mobile service for commuters”:

“There is also information on premium buses, Electronic Road Pricing gantries and rates as well as updated information on available car park lots, among other things.”

via StraitsTimes.com

I suppose the truth of the matter is that they were blowing smoke.  It seems as though they were killing free competition in advance of their release of a new web portal called MyTransport.SG which was launched today and will provide parking information, among other things.  If LTA were a public company I could understand if they wanted to limit competition or use of public data that’s being paid for by citizens, but that’s simply not the case here.

MyTransport.sg standard browser incompatibility message
MyTransport.sg standard browser incompatibility message.

Regardless, I took a look at the new mobile site, which is only accessible via a mobile browser, and it looks like they did a fairly good job with it.  The design looks like an iPhone home screen (lawsuit pending?) with the functionality of a native iPhone app, including a “Home” button and a “Location” button along the bottom of the screen.  Here are some screenshots:

MyTransport.sg Homescreen
MyTransport.sg Homescreen
The Parking Guide
The Parking Guide, and probably the reason why LTA shut off Park-A-Lot’s Access
MRT LRT Station Search
MRT LRT Station Search

You can use it to find the nearest MRT or LRT station.  If you don’t want to enter a search term, you can press the location button towards the bottom of the screen (crosshairs icon) and then allow your location to be broadcast to automatically get results.

Allow MyTransport.sg to use your location pop-up.
Allow MyTransport.sg to use your location pop-up.
Nearby Bus Stops
Nearby Bus Stops

The results are really accurate.  It gave a good list of all the bus stops near to where I am.

I’m not sure I like LTA’s questionable business practices, but I have to say they did a good job with their web interface for this data.

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