When you're using public transit to get around, or you need to get around in an unfamiliar town, having an app to help you out can make things much less stressful. While summoning an uber is always an option, these apps will help you take advantage of public transit wherever you are.
Citymapper is the best transit app that you can use on your Android phone, as long as you are in a supported city. When you need help traversing larger cities, like New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, or any number of international cities, that is where Citymapper comes in. The app can factor in buses, trains, subways, bikes and cabs, removing the daunting task of figuring out how to get from point A to B in the fastest or least stressful way possible.
Citymapper pulls all of this information into one place so you can check out the available options and see which is best for you. From directions that use the bus, subway, rail and even bikes, Citymapper will help you find the best place to get on the transportation method nearest you, and which stop you will want to get off. If you are one to travel into smaller cities, you may find that Citymapper doesn't yet offer support for it. Luckily, Citymapper is always looking to expand the areas that it supports and you can easily suggest a new location to be added.
The beauty of Citymapper is in its simplicity: you only need to open the app from your location and tell it where you want to go, and the extensive database will take into account the various means of getting somewhere — bus, subway, tram, even walking — to determine the ideal route. It's even smart enough to tell you when to leave to get there at a particular time, or which door to exit from to emerge from a subway closest to your location. The app is well-designed and extremely intuitive, and it functions as a replacement for Google Maps in every way but for driving directions.
If you are looking for options in the most places possible, Google Maps is likely your best bet. While the other apps specialize in particular cities, Google is a bit more generic. This can be a good and bad thing at the same time. Sure, you'll have more information at your fingertips with Google Maps, but the overall density of information may not be as high.
Once you find your location on the map, you'll be able to pick between driving, taking a bus, train routes, walking directions, uber requests and more. From the settings, you'll be able to set a time you want to leave or arrive so that you can see accurate commute options for that trip. This also means you can roughly plan out a day that requires multiple bus or train rides across a wider area rather than being within a single city.
Google Maps also includes a full Transit tab that will clue you in on local stations and methods of transit. This tab include sinformation on buses, and some train stations. Additionally, if you use public transit to commute to and from work, you can set it up in Google Maps so that you always know when there has been a delay, or issue in service.
Transit offers support in more than 120 cities already both in and out of the U.S. From an easy way to grab step-by-step directions to get you around a new city to real-time predictions of when the next train or bus may arrive, Transit is quite powerful. The built-in map will show you where your train is, notifications of when to get off at your stop and more so you won't get lost in that new city.
Whether you have an internet connection or not you'll be able to view the schedule for upcoming departures, check estimated time of arrivals (ETAs) and even request an Uber if no other method of transportation meets your needs. It has support for nearly all methods of transportation, including ferry, Uber, bus, rail, train, bike, car2go and others.
Transit is a great alternative to Citymapper and a great addition to Google Maps for those times you may need more in-depth information about getting around where you are. Transit offers support for more cities than Citymapper does, but its feature set isn't quite as extensive although it does work in many cities in Canada, Europe, and Australia.
Moovit: Bus&Train Live Info
Transit Directions by Moovit offers support for more than 1,200 cities around the world, which is far more than many of the other apps out there. Just because it supports more cities doesn't mean it's the best though. The interface is a bit different than others, and some may find that it works for them and others will be turned off and go back to another option.
The features of the app are great, though. With live directions that notify you when to get off at your stop, real-time arrival information, a favorites screen to quickly access places you frequently visit and more, there is no shortage of information in the app. The Moovit widget will help you keep an eye on your favorite destinations and travel lines to make sure things are operating as normal, and you can receive notifications for service alerts when things aren't running as usual.
On top of that, Moovit has been aggressively expanding their reach and add an average of one new city every 15 hours. It supports over 100 US Cities, connects to every major transit operator, and can even direct you to a local bike share if you'd rather take the scenic route on your trip.
Which is your favorite?
Depending where you live or where you will be visiting, one app may work better than the others. Each one has it's own benefits and detriments that add up, and thankfully all of the options we've presented here do their job well. Do you have a favorite transit app? Let us know about it in the comments below!
Updated December 2017: We've updated the transit apps here with important updates for your user experience!