December 31, 2012 11:39am
With New Years Eve finally here, many Canadians will be taking public transit to get where they need to be, and the major routes will likely be jammed with inebriated revelers.
One piece of software to recently hit the Apple and Google app stores is Moovit, a crowd-sourced app for public transit much like Waze is for driving. At its core, Moovit is a basic route planner: enter a source and destination and it will intelligently plan the most efficient route. The benefit, however, is that users can submit reports of delays, driver misconduct, bus or streetcar cleanliness and more.
The company is based in Israel and has been slowly expanding the number of cities in which Moovit operates. In Canada, supported cities are Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver; in the U.S, Moovit works in NYC, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, Portland, Philadelphia and San Francisco.
While the app relies largely on open API data provided by Nextbus, the added user-submitted notes are helpful in figuring out if, for example, a streetcar has been involved in an accident and service isn’t moving on a particular line. While there are independent sources to provide such data, crowdsourced information is usually more accurate and generally arrives faster.
Moovit is smart enough to dynamically adjust your ETA time based on changing transit conditions and will suggest alternate routes if one is particularly backed up.
You don’t have to actively submit anything for Moovit to work, either. On Android and iOS, the app runs in the background (with minimal impact on battery, the company promises) to provide data to the servers; the more people using Moovit, the more accurate the service becomes.
Another benefit to Moovit is the ability to coordinate meetup locations and times with friends or family. You can submit where you’re going and your friends can see how far away you are. If you’re running late, Moovit can automatically ping them.
The app is in beta, and some of the UI is still a bit janky, especially on Android. Nevertheless, Moovit has a lot of potential to be a real game changer in the public transit app game, and the more Canadians who use it the better it will become.