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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.

Available for a slew of U.S. and Canadian cities, the app provides all the same options and information--mainly an accurate estimation of the arrival time of buses at the specific stop you choose. It's a little quicker than accessing the NextBus.com website on your mobile browser, and has the added bonus of showing you multiple nearby routes at a glance. However, there are few bells and whistles here: no trip planner, no nearby restaurant or business information, and no information on crowd levels. This one's for the public transit pros, but it does include a map that shows all the stops along the route and your bus' GPS location, which is decently helpful.

HopStopAndroid, iOS, and Windows Phone 8
The only transit app that was available for all mobile platforms, HopStop is seriously robust and covers a whopping 600+ U.S. and international cities. The trip planner is smart and fast--it recognized many destinations that others didn't--and it provides several transit routes as well as a taxi option with estimated fare and the ability to hail a cab via poundtaxi.com with one tap. A station map pinpoints up to nine stops in your immediate vicinity, which is helpful.

Some features are only available on certain versions of the app, however. For example, the Android version of the app doesn't display Muni Bus schedules (but does provide Muni Metro schedules). Likewise, transit maps were provided for BART services in the San Francisco Bay Area, but there were no maps for the Muni lines and transit advisories were only available for NYC Subways (again, in the Android version). It is also ad-supported but the banner is tiny and unobtrusive. This is a great app for people who travel to a variety of cities, and also features a live feed of information and feedback on the bus submitted by users--you can add your own report as well.

 

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