The Transit App Review

The Transit App Review

Jan 22, 2014

Living in Chicago, a city with robust public transit options, I find myself glad that I also live in the time of mobile technology, because otherwise I fear I’d get lost when going around this big city. Thankfully, I’ve had The Transit App in its iOS incarnation to help get around. This app does two things: it shows which transit lines are running nearby, and it provides helpful directions to get where I’m going. It does these two things tremendously well. And now, it does them well on Android, jumping to the top of the transit app heap.

See, what makes the app so handy is that when it’s launched, it shows all the nearby routes, including bus, subways, and train lines. For Chicago, this includes CTA buses and trains, along with Metra trains and Pace buses. It shows the route name, allows for easy toggling between route direction, and also when the next stop is. There’s the ability to see when future stops are coming, and where the various stops are going to be on the map. That is perhaps my favorite feature of the app: being able to see where exactly a bus is going to stop makes it infinitely easier to get around, particularly as I can see which stops come before where I need to get off so I can signal to stop and get to the exit when necessary. T


Finding transit directions is great too: it shows where each line runs, the various stops inbetween, and where transfers need to be made. Multiple routes are given, too, a killer feature since often transit routing can be imperfect. Some routes are just easier or better than others, but The Transit App is generally quite intelligent. It’s also possible to search by place names, though this can be imperfect. Typing in the address will work, though. While my experience is largely based on Chicago, The Transit App has also served me well in trips to San Francisco, Portland, and San Antonio, where it made sense of the complicated bus routes down there.

The one issue with The Transit App is that its really more of an app for seeing which transit lines nearby to one’s current location are available rather than being able to research when a particular line is running. There is the ability to set custom locations to see what’s running around that location as well as to set favorite lines, but those will only appear if they’re nearby. I’d appreciate a feature that shows all my favorite lines so that I can quickly see what’s running no matter where I am.

While perhaps that one lacking element is the factor that keeps me from only using one transit app as I like to see other routes and stops when necessary, this is still hands-down the best transit app that’s out there. Truly, it is The Transit App.

Know When to Ride the Rails into Chicago with Rail-Hopper for Metra

Know When to Ride the Rails into Chicago with Rail-Hopper for Metra

May 25, 2011

For those living in the Chicago suburbs, the Metra trains are invaluable for going to downtown, whether for commuting to work or going to visit the city for pleasure. Truth: alcohol can be consumed on Metra trains; coincidentally, plenty of Cubs fans ride the Metra when going to Cubs games. Of course, the problem is knowing when the trains are coming and going, especially for those new to the Metra system. One mistake people often make is thinking that there’s a train that leaves in the 11am hour on the Union Pacific-West line; there isn’t, and this is something that has to be learned the hard way. I assumed that there would be one, as there’s one every other hour, but there isn’t. If only I had a handy-dandy set of train times available! Sure, there’s a mobile website to visit, but what if I don’t have data access, or just need to quickly see where a station is located and what times the trains leave at? Well, Rail-Hopper for Metra is here to help.

This app provides a simple offline database of train times (there’s a short initial download of app data the first time the app is launched), so even in no service areas, the train schedules can be viewed. As well, the app provides Google Maps links to the train stations, so it is possible to see and get directions to where a station is. Each stop also has the information for the station’s phone number, times the ticketing agent will be available, when the waiting areas are open, and a map of parking for Metra customers. Stations can be added to a list of favorites for quick access, as well. A list of service alerts is also available, to see when trains may be running late.

Rail-Hopper is currently only available for the Chicago Metra system, and it is an invaluable resource that I wish I had more access to while I was up in the Chicago area recently. It would have saved a lot of time, especially as I can’t always carry a paper schedule around to see when trains are supposed to arrive. Rail-Hopper for Metra is available from the Android Market for the low, low price of free. And no, it will not help you actually hop the rails. That’s dangerous and we do not recommend it. Android Rundown does not want you to get electrocuted.

SpeedView Pro Review

SpeedView Pro Review

Jan 7, 2011

SpeedView Pro is an advanced speedometer application by developer Code Sector. To be honest, this is the first speedometer app I have ever downloaded. I never thought too much about a speedometer app only because — well — I already have a speedometer in my car.

I now realize that there are indeed many uses and features that a good speedometer app can provide, other than the obvious. I went ahead and decided on SpeedView Pro because it just happened to be on sale for $0.99. SpeedView is also available for “Free” in an ad-supported version for those of you who want to try before you buy (or don’t mind ads).