Commuting is a daily thing for many of us, because it may be easier to deal with than driving in traffic. Or perhaps you don't have a car, it's more convenient, or you may even get reimbursed for taking public transportation, so why not? And if you live in a city with a good transit system, then the benefits outweigh the cons. But what do you do about keeping up with the schedule for the buses, trains, and subways? Don't worry, we've got you covered with these great transit apps!
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If you can only have one app for transit and commuting, then you should definitely make it Transit (how appropriate).
Transit features a gorgeous UI that is not only pretty eye candy, but it's also super intuitive. When you launch the app, it will automatically display the nearest public transportation options to you, given that you've granted it access to your location. All of the buses, train, and subway lines are color-coded to match their real-world counterparts, so it's easy to differentiate. Plus, you'll see the numbers and names for each option too.
Each line displays the arrival time in real-time for the next bus or train, so you can see exactly how long you have to wait. Transit also provides full schedules if you can't make it, so you can plan accordingly. There is also a trip planner, so you can tell Transit where you are heading and it'll provide you with step-by-step directions on what buses and trains you need to take to reach your destination safely and in a timely manner.
Transit also notifies you whenever there are changes in the schedule, such as delays or closures, so you'll never be unprepared.
Another fantastic option is Citymapper, and this one is especially great if you're in a new city for traveling purposes.
When Citymapper gets launched, you'll automatically see the nearby transportation options, including buses, rails, subway and trains, even bike, Uber, and more. Just pick the mode of transportation you want, and Citymapper gives you all of the available options that are near you right now.
There is also a trip planner feature, where you input where you want to go and Citymapper tells you how to reach it. If you plan on walking or biking, Citymapper lets you know how many calories you'll burn, which is rather helpful information to know. Other modes of transport show the line and bus numbers or names, along with their arrival time in real-time, so you have ample time to get ready.
Oh, and if you happen to have a jetpack, Citymapper gives you an estimate on that too. They've got all the bases covered, you know?
If you're looking for a no-frills transit app that gets the job done efficiently, then Moovit is a good option to consider.
Moovit displays all of the lines that are nearby to your location right now, though you can also make use of the trip planner feature if you're leaving later from somewhere else. It fetches arrival times in real-time so you're always prepared, but you can view the full schedule as well if need be. Moovit also tells you how many more stops until you reach your destination, so you don't miss it. Any delays that occur also get pushed to your phone, so you know what to expect.
And if you're in a city that has an active bike-share program, you can check out the nearest docking station and see availability. Moovit also has maps of your public transportation options available as PDFs.
While many of us may use Google Maps for driving directions, it's also great for those times we need transit directions too!
However, unlike a dedicated transit app, Google Maps will need you to input a location first, as if you're getting driving directions. Once you do that, just select the "public transportation" option, which is represented by the subway icon. You can then see the transit directions, which let you know which lines to take, how long the trip will be, and your estimated arrival time. If there are any detours, Google Maps lets you know, and all of the ETAs are in real-time, so if there are any delays, you'll get notified.
And when you view your route, lines are color-coded appropriately, so you can differentiate between lines easily. The bottom also tells you which public transportation companies you'll be using on your trip, in case you need clarification for different fare and pass types.
ETA is an app for your favorite destinations. While the main purpose of the app is to easily see estimated arrival times and share them with your friends and family, ETA also provides you with quick access to both driving, transit, and even walking directions.
Just input the addresses of your favorite places, whether they're residential homes or businesses. Once they're in, you'll be able to see how long it will take you to get there right now, and if you tap on that locale, you'll see where it is on the map, along with multiple driving direction options. Tapping on the transit button shows you how long it'll take to get there with public transportation, along with the arrival time if all goes according to plan.
Tapping on the arrow button in the bottom left corner brings up the transit directions in your default navigation app, which can be changed in the app's settings. While ETA does not provide driving or transit directions directly, it is a shortcut to get the appropriate directions in your favorite app. You can also change the directions back to driving from transit at any time.
This app is best used as a widget in your Today View.
Whiz - Live Train & Bus Times
Whiz lets you plan out your transit trip up to seven days in advance, and you can get up to five different ways to reach your destination. The app also lets you share your route with friends and family so that they know where you're at all times, and they don't even need the app themselves.
There are also live countdown boards for buses and trains, transfer alerts, and much more. A great feature with Whiz is the live tracking feature, allowing you to see exactly where your bus or train is right now on the map. And all of this is wrapped up nicely in a gorgeous interface that is easy to follow.
If you want something simple and no-frills but gives you what you need for transit, then TransLoc Rider is the app to check out.
With TransLoc Rider, you can watch your buses and trains move in real-time on a map, right on your phone. There is also the option to alert you when your bus or train is approaching you, so you're always ready-to-go. And if you want to see the other options, the app allows you to see the location and direction of any bus within your vicinity. TransLoc Rider also has arrival predictions for all buses at a specific stop, SmartSearch for quickly finding routes and stops, and a modular trip planning feature.
Commuting made easier
Whether we like it or not, commuting is a part of everyday life, whether it's for work, leisure, or travel. Knowing the schedule can be tedious, especially when delays and detours often happen, so having a transit app definitely helps out with knowing when your bus or train is coming.
These are some of the best apps that we've found for transit and commuting for the iPhone. What are you currently using? Let us know in the comments!
November 2019: Removed GoLA from the list. Added Whiz and TransLoc Rider to the list.
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Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.