Overcrowded buses, trains, and subways can stress out commuters, particularly during peak travel times. Nevertheless, auto traffic can be an even greater cause of productivity-sapping anxiety, so public transportation usage remains on the rise
and the problem only stands to worsen. Now there are mobile tools that aim to ease cramped commuting by identifying which routes, train cars, and times are the least busy.
: Created by a team of Israeli developers, Moovit
harnesses public opinion to provide real-time data on public transportation in more than 30 cities worldwide
. The app integrates transit schedules with crowdsourced information, offering details about delays and density. When users ride with the app open on their phones, Moovit detects their location to determine speed and arrival times. It also pings passengers with questions such as the availability of seats and WiFi connectivity, helping them choose the most comfortable routes. Prior to boarding, users can view a live map with travel times and alternative itineraries. In some cases, walking
may be the best option.
Standing for an entire train ride can be frustrating, if not claustrophobic. Dutch national train operator NS
aims to prevent this inconvenience with a pilot feature for its Reisplanner Xtra app
. In-train sensors count the number of people entering and exiting each car to assess crowdedness in real-time. The app also estimates which trains will be the busiest based on history. Travelers can then determine which train to take, or even where to stand on the platform
, to maximize their chances of snagging a seat. The updated app is being tested on select routes and, if successful, will be made available on all NS trains.
Public transportation is a way to get from Point A to Point B, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be as convenient as it is simple.
With this goal in mind, frustrated commuter Ryan Escarez
developed the MRTtrackr app
at a Google Hackathon. The app, using a combination of location services and crowdsourced intelligence, lets passengers in the Philippines monitor train times to determine which stations are too busy. Dubbed “the social train tracking app,” it even offers riders the option to receive voice alert when they’ve arrived at their stops, in case they fall asleep or can’t hear the conductor.