My Favorite Transit Apps

I love public transportation and would like to share some of my favorite web and mobile transit applications with you.

Allen Stern, Contributor

May 9, 2010

3 Min Read

I love public transportation and would like to share some of my favorite web and mobile transit applications with you.Last week the transit authority in New York City (also known as the MTA) held their first developer conference. I've posted several videos from the event on my YouTube channel and CivicHacker has a good text recap. It was great to see the MTA finally embracing developers and realizing that the community can help improve how riders use the various public transportation systems to travel around the city.

There are several awesome public transportation applications that are worth sharing. Please leave a comment if you know of other transit apps that should be on this list.

In NYC you can use Exit Strategy to help figure out where to stand on a subway platform to make sure you exit the train closest to the exit you need. This can shave several minutes off of your commute as the wasted time waiting for a train becomes productive time as you can move to the needed location while waiting for your train. The new 2.0 version of Exit Strategy version adds what they call, "Enter Strategy". Basically what they have done is integrate the neighborhood maps the MTA creates that show you where the subway entrances near a station. These maps are typically located near the token booth clerks at each station. With the new Exit Strategy NYC, the maps are loaded into the app and can be accessed underground.

Clever Commute helps transit riders learn about delays and other updates quicker than the transit agencies can provide. Currently the service is focused on New Jersey Transit and the commuter rail in NYC. The concept behind Clever Commute is relatively simple - you are sitting on a train or bus in New Jersey and a traffic jam appears in front of you or the conductor makes an announcement that delays will be more than 15 minutes. You use your mobile phone to send an email to Clever Commute with the time, transit line and the nature of the issue. Clever Commute sends out emails to all of their members who have requested information about that line or region.

Real-Time Transit Trackers Last month I took a look at three real-time transit trackers from around the world. My favorite continues to be the Swiss Rail tracker which shows the trains moving in Switzerland in real-time. The BART system (from the San Francisco bay area) has a simple real-time tracker which allows you to enter the station you will arrive at and see when the next trains will be arriving.

In Boston, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is running a real-time arrivals test on several bus lines in their T-Tracker system. Chicago offers a bus tracker as well, both in map and list formats.

My second favorite transit system, Transport for London, offers real-time tracking by station. You select the station you will board from and the system displays the next three arriving trains or ferries. The system also displays any service changes or disruptions.

Other real-time transit trackers include test systems in NYC and Philadelphia.

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