By: Tricia Romano
Do you remember the old days, in ancient medieval times five years ago, when you’d be standing at the bus stop waiting for what seemed like eternity and wondering, “When will it ever show up?” My friend, times have changed.
With the help of a myriad of commuting apps, you can commute smarter, avoiding traffic, and make the right decision of whether you should stay or go. The best part of all is that most of these are free (or cheap), thereby saving you both time and money!
[title text=”1) Google Maps”]
Singlehandedly shutting down the need for a separate GPS device, Google Maps has been offering live, updated traffic data directly to your phone for years now. You can toggle between three different routes to see which one will take you longer or which one has the most congestion and navigate from there. It gives you walking, biking and bussing directions, with real time instructions for the latter.
[title text=”2) OneBusAway”]
Very limited in its area of coverage, OneBusAway only covers New York City, York, Atlanta, and the Puget Sound (Seattle). However, if you are there, it is very useful. In Seattle, where I live, I use OneBusAway to see if one particularly unreliable bus is late or not. It tells you if it’s running five minutes past its estimated arrival time or if it’s due any minute. If it’s faster for you to take another method (walking or biking), you might make that decision based on how many minutes it’s been behind. If you don’t live in either of those places, never fear, the man who invented OneBusAway now works for Google and his tech is being used by Google Maps, which also tracks public transport.
[title text=”3) HopStop”]
Another public transit app, this one focuses on subway systems, notably in New York, Washington D.C., and if you are traveling to Europe, major cities like Berlin, Amsterdam, and London. But it also has hundreds of smaller American cities, like St. Louis, Providence, and Portland (Oregon and Maine).
It helps you figure out the best route, whether or not you want to walk more or less, or take more transfers. HopStop provides a visual route as well as a list which helps you find your own way if you get lost. If you walk, it helpfully calculates “calories burned” which is kind of adorable. Also helpful: if there’s construction or some other stoppage, it’ll alert you. You can find directions, maps, and schedules within the app.
[title text=”4) Waze”]
For drivers, Waze is a crowd-sourced real time traffic app. Stuck on the freeway because someone has a blown tire? You can let all your friends on Waze know what’s going on. If you’re wondering if one route is moving faster than the other, you can zoom in on the route and see what other Wazers are saying (“car stopped on shoulder”) before you leave the house. It’s like Google Maps, but more personalized and community-based.
[title text=”5) Ride the City”]
You don’t necessarily want to take the same route on a bike that you would in a car, a bike app that suggests safer routes is a must. Most cycling apps focus on keeping track of the route you already took (Map My Ride), but there are a few, like Bike Path, which will allow you enter in your destination and find the best route.
Ride the City covers most major American cities (Seattle, NYC, San Francisco, Los Angeles) and few popular international destinations (Barcelona, Madrid, Santiago). You can also use Google Maps, but some users have suggested that Google’s routes aren’t as good for bikers as they are for drivers. Map My Ride and Bike Map are more robust in terms of tracking features, and showing the details of the routes taken by other users (such as elevation), but if you want Point A to Point B directions, you have to upgrade to a monthly or annual subscription for Map My Ride.
Ride the City, $1.99 for Android and iOS.