Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Google gets you to your bus on time

I have heard a few people who own iPhones say to me "I wish I had access to the transit schedule so I knew how to get home from here." Little did they know that they already have everything they need to get home by transit right on their iPhone.

Just open the Maps app and tap Directions. If a route is already there, tap Edit and Clear. If location services are enabled on the phone, the Start field probably already says Current Location. If that's where you're travelling from, just plug your destination into the End field. If you're planning to begin your journey from a particular address (not where you are now), tap in the Start field and tap the X at the right to delete the 'current location', then type in your intended start point.

Once you have your intended start and end point plugged in, tap Route. The map app defaults to the mode of transportation you chose last time, so it's very likely to be via vehicle (the car icon at the top). For transit mode, tap the bus icon. The summary map will show you the next departure time for the bus / LRT route it has chosen for you and let's you know what time you should arrive at your destination. The map itself has drawn the route on the map with a green start pin and a red end pin. You can zoom in to see the route in all of its glory, then tap Start to get stepped through all of the waypoints of the trip, including walking parts and what buses / LRT numbers to take. If you arrive too late, you only have to tap the clock icon to see upcoming times for the same bus. This will give you an opportunity to stop in at the coffee shop while waiting for the next bus, for example. The last step will usually show you the walking part to your exact destination. If the location services is enabled on your phone, you should see a blue dot on the map showing your progress along the way. If the dot isn't being shown on the map where you are, tap the location services arrow at the bottom left corner of the app to have it show you where you are and track your movement.

Once you've mastered this app, you'll be able to bus around town like a pro. I have often found that Google Maps does a better job than the transit company's own resources at managing travel by transit.

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