July’s “Site of the Month” is probably most known among Wellingtonians: Metlink, developed by Wellington-based web agency Somar Design Studios. It is a world-class, interactive website that caters for hundreds of thousands of commuters of all ages.
Metlink, as part of the Greater Wellington Regional Council, is the region’s public transport network of bus, train and harbour ferry services—overseeing 4 rail lines, over 100 bus routes, more than 200 school bus services, and 4 harbour ferry stops.
Metlink required an all-new responsive website to help commuters find public transport information, such as timetables and dynamic journey plans, quickly and easily.
Leveraging existing modules
The Metlink website required fairly complex functionality that could withstand the demands that tens of thousands of Wellington public transport users put on it every day.
Somar looked to use existing community supported modules where possible, including the following:
Member Profiles Module: Utilising this module, Somar was able to very quickly enable user registration and profile management so that public transport users can save their favourite stops, receive email and text notifications for service delays and disruptions.
Queued Jobs Module: As the website is used as a primary communication channel, the queued jobs module was implemented to allow for advanced scheduling of things like publishing Tweets to the Metlink Twitter account, sending Service Update email notifications, SMS notifications and publishing content
Controller Policy: A large part of ensuring the Metlink website stays operational is the advanced caching put in place. By using Controller Policy, the website codebase was able to dictate to the upstream cache providers—in this case, Varnish—how long particular pagetypes and data should be cached for, dramatically reducing the number of requests to the backend web servers.
Burnbright Omnipay: Somar made use of the Omnipay module to provide a payment gateway to Payment Express to enable online payments for monthly rail passes.
Since the new Metlink website was launched in October 2015, it has continued to build upon the strong foundation that SilverStripe CMS/Framework has allowed for. In June 2016 a significant update was rolled out to allow for content editors and transport operators to deliver Service Updates that could be sent directly to users via SMS, Email, and Twitter.
It has consistently delivered an impressive record for uptime and availability—hugely important for all public transport users in Wellington. It is capable of delivering during the daily morning and afternoon peaks, along with being able to scale and perform under load when there are major events resulting in service disruptions.
Further developments are planned for the Metlink website in the coming months as Metlink continues to provide a world-class experience for Wellingtonians.
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