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BART Mobile Website Case Study


Web Master Designs built a very basic mobile website for Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) back in 2004-05. It provided very simple pages that would work on most web-enabled phones. In the time since that was launched, the whole smartphone industry took off, and it became time for BART to improve the look and feel of its mobile website as well as add new functionality for smartphones.


The project was initially scoped to replace the then-current text-only WAP-based wireless site. Eventually it grew to include new features including find a station, geolocation, and a much better graphical presentation. This project was done as a background project when other BART initiatives were not pressing. As such, Web Master Designs took a more active role in the graphical design for this new site than usual.


Building a completely new site from the ground up, Web Master Designs chose to use the newer XHTML Mobile 1.2 standard instead of the older WAP standard. This provided better cross-platform functionality on iPhone, Android and some Blackberry platforms.

Leveraging much of the logic and functions of the standard website, Web Master Designs was able to create a better mobile-user experience while still providing the same high-quality information that BART users have come to expect. The QuickPlanner results were completely reorganized, providing the same information as the website but in a much smaller, mobile-friendly format.

Late in the project, BART asked that mobile geolocation be incorporated into the QuickPlanner and the Find A Station functionality. Using a code library from Google, Web Master Designs was able to seamlessly plug in the feature. Users on geolocation-enabled phones or browsers can now select the "Use my location" link to populate their reported position, providing directions from their current location. In addition, the new mobile website utilizes Google's mapping technology to provide address-to-address QuickPlanner results. The older wireless site was restricted to only providing station-to-station trip plans.


BART continues to maintain its mobile website since it is not using a responsive design on its main website. Both websites are powered by Drupal, using different templates, and although the menu for the mobile site is limited, almost every page from the website can now be rendered in the mobile site.


Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) connects the San Francisco peninsula with Oakland, Berkeley, Fremont, Walnut Creek, Dublin/Pleasanton, and other cities in the East Bay. For more than 35 years BART has provided fast, reliable transportation to downtown offices, shopping centers, tourist attractions, entertainment venues, universities, and other destinations for Bay Area residents and visitors alike.