Routesy, a public transit iPhone app, makes comeback

Things seem to have turned around for Routesy, a public transit iPhone application that disappeared from Apple’s App Store a few months ago. After returning to the App Store in August, it’s now featured in the DataSF App Showcase, a site that highlights web and mobile apps doing cool things with San Francisco data.

This was one of the first apps that I downloaded for my iPhone, and I used it constantly to find out when buses were arriving at nearby stops. Then, back in June, Routesy was caught up in a complicated legal dispute with a company called NextBus Information Systems (NBIS). The company accused Routesy of making unauthorized use of its data, and convinced Apple to stop approving updates, essentially killing the app.

When I last wrote about Routesy, the app’s fate looked uncertain, but the situation has improved for developer Steven Peterson. Apparently, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (the one that actually runs the buses and trains) didn’t agree with NBIS’ assertions — it said actually, the MTA owns the data. Shortly afterward, Routesy was back in the app store. (You can read more in-depth coverage of all twists and turns at the SF Appeal.)

The app received some additional vindiciation today, when San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom announced the launch of a “city app store” featuring Routesy. Now, there’s some legalese indicating “the City neither endorses these applications nor warrants that they operate as described,” and the so-called app store is really just a web page highlighting different apps. But it’s still nice placement for Routesy, especially since Newsom specifically mentioned it as a good example of “new ways in which Bay Area constituents are using City data to improve San Francisco.” (Not to mention that competitors like iMuni, which I switched to when Routesy broke, aren’t featured in the city app store, at least not yet.)

By the way, the App Showcase highlights some other cool tools, like EveryBlock, which provides a news feed for individual neighborhoods (and which I keep meaning to try out), and Cabspotting, which creates real-time maps of Yellow Cab taxis in San Francisco.

I’ve emailed Johnson for more details about how Routesy is doing, and I’ll update if I hear back.

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