Skift Take

New York City deserves a lot better local transit apps than the choices now. The ultimate multi-modal real-time local transit app is still some ways off, but tons of progress is being made, as Citymapper shows.

New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has been hosting best local transit apps contest for two years now, and in its second year this year, it tied up with AT&T to award $50,00 among the five winning apps. This contest challenges “developers to show off their skills while solving real-world problems and enhancing the transit experience of MTA’s 8.5 million daily riders,” according to the organizers.

The result: five transit apps hope to define the future of transit in this giant city, and hopefully useful in other cities around the world as well in the future. 49 apps were submitted in total, and these five were chosen out of them by the judges.

For us, two apps stand out among these five: Citymapper, for building a real-time multi-modal transit app, combining all the possible transport options in New York City, including even Citibike bike share service that launched earlier this year.

The second, Accessway, is a way-funding for the blind and visually impaired to navigate the subway system.

All the five apps, listed below, with screenshots and videos:

  • Best Overall App and Best MTA “Wish List” App: Citymapper, which uses real-time transit information to improve travel. The app enhances A to B journey planning complemented with real-time information on subways, buses and bikes (wherever real-time data is available from the MTA data API), across all five boroughs of NYC.The app also provides information on disruptions, alert you when to get off the bus, give you hyperlocal weather and personalize the app with your most visited place.Desktop2
  • Second Prize for Best Overall App: Subculture.FM for connecting riders with artists seen on the subway. SubCulture.FM allows MTA users to identify their favorite subway musicians performing in the NYC Subway area by QR codes to each musical group to display during live performances. These QR codes can be stored, so that you can enjoy their music anytime.Desktop3
  • Third Prize for Best Overall App: Transit App for using real time data to advise riders of train and bus locations, departure times and service changes. Transit App tell users about transit routes around you and departure times. See in real time the current locations of desired trains or buses and use the trip planner to route your next destination. (Best design of all apps, according to us).Desktop3

  • Honorable Mention: Accessway is a way-finding app for the blind and visually impaired to navigate the subway system. It incorporates both Bluetooth sensors and Wi-Fi technologies to talk to a user’s device and deliver audio messages regarding their surroundings, such as which platform the user is on. The app also provides real-time train arrival times and service changes.Desktop3
  • Honorable Mention: Bus NYC, which provides live departure and arrival data for all bus routes, it provides users with live departure and arrival times, full timetables for selected routes, service advisories, bus route maps and trip planners among others. Many of Bus NYC’s features also function without Wi-Fi, allowing users to plan while they are underground.


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Tags: mta, nyc

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