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Get home hassle-free with these free public transportation apps

Sara Whitney Wood | May 16, 2013
For years and years, I got around via the city bus and a trusty paper SF Muni system map tucked into my messenger bag. When I needed to know what alternate routes were nearby, I could just reference my map; and when it started falling apart, I could just pick up another one for $3. But something my paper map could never pull off was telling me precisely how long I would have to wait before my bus came. Or what restaurants were along the route.

You can also save favorite routes and stops for quick access, report delays, and search for nearby parking (an odd addition for a public transit app but handy nonetheless) all with just a couple of taps. The routing tool works fine for a specific address, or for public landmarks like parks, but does not recognize destinations such as restaurants by name. Right now it covers 8 major metropolitan areas including New York and the San Francisco Bay Area, but they are expanding and offer users the opportunity to suggest new cities.

MoovitAndroid, iOS
The smiley face map pin icon for Moovit is totally appropriate as this user-friendly app features crowdsourced user reports on cleanliness, crowd levels, driver rankings, and more. It's packed with transit info for many international metropolitan areas from Perth to Paris, and 12 major U.S. cities. The in-app map also displays icons for nearby restaurants, points of interest, parking, and even ATMs. While at first glance the visual cues on the map may seem cluttered or overwhelming, once you've adjusted to them it's clear that all the details are purposeful and helpful.

You can filter your search by type of transit (bus, rail, metro, cable car, ferry), by fastest route, or fewest transfers; you can also tap on the transit stops on the map to see all routes traveling though that location and watch a tiny bus icon indicating your next ride's live progress toward your stop. If you choose the navigation option on your trip, Moovit will track your progress and alert you when to get off the bus, which is a pretty cool feature and especially useful on unfamiliar routes--and you don't have to have your nose in your phone the whole trip (although you do have to keep the app open). The app also lists all the stops along a route, so you can see how quickly yours is coming up. Moovit users can recommend alternate routes and lines if there's a better route, helping the app to provide better results for everyone.

iNextBusAndroid, iOS
You can't go wrong with iNextBus, the app version of the trusty NextBus.com website. It's a simple, reliable, real-time transit tracker that can tell you the departure times of nearby transit at a glance. Admittedly, aesthetically it's nothing to write home about, but it is very good at what it does and it couldn't be easier to use.

 

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