Siri shortcuts for location, distance, and bus schedules

As a student commuting to campus by bus, I wanted to get to my bus stop right on time. I didn’t want to wait in the cold because I was ten minutes early or one minute late. My course schedules were all over the place, and I was constantly trying to remember what time I need to leave each day to get to class on time. I needed a solution to help me with this, and I found that with an easy Hey Siri shortcut.

I tested several of the plentiful applications which exist to handle this exact problem, including Google Maps, Transit, and even an app built by my city, but none fulfilled my basic criteria:

Clean, Simple UI

I only needed to get to campus and back on a single bus line. I didn’t need messy, feature-rich app. Rather, I wanted a clean, simple UI that told me exactly what I wanted to know: “When should I leave to catch my bus?”


For some reason, every app had a different estimate of how fast I walked. Some apps didn’t have the proper bus schedules. Therefore, I felt I couldn’t trust the timing on existing apps.


I wanted to know if I needed to leave in 15 minutes, five minutes, or right now. That meant I only needed the next few buses for my stop. Spending time clicking through multiple menus, timetables, or splash pages was a waste of time and brainpower.

I found perfect solution to be my city’s SMS service. It works by texting them the bus stop number, and they text back the next five buses arriving. It’s accurate, concise, and exactly what I wanted to see as I’m prepping to leave for the day.

Here’s how the SMS service works for bus times.

To solve this little issue, I used Apple’s Shortcuts app (on Mac, iOS, and iPad) to enable Siri to send the text based on my location. Shortcuts provides a ‘low-code’ interface for building helpful automations much like Microsoft’s Power Automate.

The image below shows how I started by getting my current location and the distance from my college. The distance from campus determines whether the text should ask for the stop on campus or the stop near my house. Then, my phone sends a text to the city and I get the next five buses sent to me as a text. The ‘Hey Siri’ function uses the title of the shortcut, for example, “Hey Siri, when is the next bus?” to trigger the shortcut.

The full Siri Shortcut to pull up bus times.

As a student with limited time and attention, this saved me the hassle of dragging out my phone, typing out a text (often in Canada’s freezing winters), and trying to remember my stop number. This solution was simple, accurate, and fast. It was also very fast to setup, taking me about 15 minutes total. Lastly, it’s hands-free, so I can ask Siri while I’m finishing my morning coffee or leaving the last lecture of the day. I expect it to be the first of many shortcuts I’ll use for daily productivity.