With increasingly crowded thoroughfares in many major metropolitan areas in the US, those who don't use mass transit systems are beginning to see the appeal of taking the bus, streetcar, or train to and from work. With the help of apps like Transit Directions by Moovit (free), it's simple to find local stations or stops, find out when the next train or bus arrives, and even get notification of when you should get off of your public ride.
Moovit recently updated its app to version 4.7, adding multitasking in the app without interrupting the trip in progress, a bunch of new cities from Knoxville, TN to Corumbá, Brazil, and a completely new feature called Live Directions.
That latter feature provides step-by-step guidance in real time, including that all-important notification that tells you that you're approaching your stop and should get ready to debark. Setting up a trip is a piece of cake: as a test, I thought it would be a useful exercise to see if I could get from my home south of Denver to the Colorado School of Mines campus in Golden, CO, arriving at 5 PM.
The app uses location services to find your current location, and I was able to enter in the name of the campus as a destination. I put in my arrival time as 5 PM, told the app to search for the best route and include all transit types, then tapped the Search Routes button.
Well, it would take me a bit longer to take the Denver metro Regional Transportation District's various lines to get to the famed engineering school than I'd be willing to put up with, but in seconds, the app showed me that with two short walks, two bus rides and a light rail ride, I'd be at the campus in 123 minutes. A preview of the journey was available as well.
It even gave me two alternative routes leaving from slightly different places, although both took considerably longer to go the 24 miles from my house to the campus. Needless to say, I'm extremely happy that I don't need to really travel to Mines today. I also found it fascinating -- but not surprising -- that Apple's Maps app couldn't supply me with those same transit directions.
As with the crowdsourced Waze directions app, Moovit includes a way for you or other transit riders to report situations on a particular line or at a station. Let's say that bad weather is slowing things down on a bus line; you can report that with a few taps, giving fellow commuters a heads-up that they might want to try another way of getting to work.
Moovit's app is really well implemented, even if the transportation infrastructure in your community is not. The accompanying Watch app even shows stops and transfers at a glance, so you can check on your progress with a flick of the wrist. If you don't happen to be near a station or in the midst of a trip, you'll just get the sad little icon seen at the right.
Moovit says that the app is already used (on various platforms) by over 28 million riders in more than 750 cities around the world, and they add a new city every 24 hours. If you can't get directions on your local bus, light rail or commuter rail system today, just wait and it will probably be added.