Photo by Incase on Flickr.
Thanks to smartphone technology, we’ve got a lot more than maps and timetables to tell us how to get from Point A to Point B. But “if you search the app store for ‘Next Bus,’” said one of our readers, “a lot comes up. What apps do GGWash readers use? What do they like and what do they hate?”
We asked our contributors which apps they use to get real-time transit information, and why. Here’s what they had to say:
Some prefer the simple interface of NextBus.
Canaan Merchant said: “I use NextBus. Even just going in through my browser. It works well enough for me most of the time though it gets wonky if I’m near the beginning of a route.”
“I like NextBus’ simple, uncluttered interface,” added Malcolm Kenton.
DC Metro Transit
Others (including myself!) have stayed loyal to the tried and true DC Metro Transit app.
Dennis Jaffe said:
“I’ve been using DC Metro Transit for Android for almost 4 years. I find it simpler, more reliable and more feature-rich than others. Features include:
- Real time arrival info for transit providers providing the data and schedule info for those not providing it
- Many transit providers — WMATA, ART, Dash, Circulator, TheBus, CUE/Fairfax and Shuttle UMD
- Metrorail Map
- Nearest Metrorail station to your current location
- Trip Planner for Metrorail
- Easy-to-create widgets
- Really excellent, highly responsive support
“DC Metro Transit has worked fairly well for me,” said Payton Chung. “No mobile interface can explain something as complex as Metrobus routings, but it’s about as good as I’ve found. Also, I sometimes also use the bus-stop listing to try and figure out whether a given a bus route will get me where I’m going.”
Others love Transit, which provides an all-in-one experience.
“I primarily use Transit for its clean design and ease of use,” said Brendan Casey. “I appreciate that this app functions well in most other cities I visit so I don’t need to download a local app. Transit is great for seeing arrival times for your regularly used transit routes and also quickly learning where an unfamiliar route can take you.”
“Someone in the Greater Greater Washington comments section recommended Transit years ago,” said Joe Fox. “The best part about it for me is that I can use it in any city, and I can show someone who has never taken a city bus in their lives how easy it is by pulling up the app.
“The least known part about it is the trip planner (complete with gantt chart style comparison!) and the ability to see published vs. real time schedules without navigating menus.”
“Transit is cool in that it also shows CaBi station status and nearby Car2go’s, as well as how far away the nearest Uber is,” added Malcolm Kenton.
Mixing and matching might be your best bet
Almost all of our contributors used more than one interface, depending on what they need most at the time. For example, Malcolm Kenton said he uses one app for routine checking of arrival times, and another for step-by-step directions. And Joe Fox said he primarily uses Transit, but when he wants to know about Metro delays, he looks to DC Metro Transit or Twitter.
Other apps our contributors mentioned include MARCTracker, RideDC, Moovit (Malcolm Kenton said it incorporates step-by-step directions with real-time tracking), Ridescout (Kevin Beekman said this app has a unique cost estimate comparison feature), and CityMapper (Brendan Casey said it’s a great multi-modal trip planning tool).
Also of note, we put together a list of the best iPhone bus tracking apps back in 2013.
What apps do you use? Let us know in the comments!
Do you have a question? We’ll pose it to the Greater Greater Washington contributors and post appropriate parts of the discussion. You can suggest questions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions about factual topics are most likely to be chosen. Thanks!