Well, a few months have passed, the clever developers have worked their magic and Metro’s judges have chosen the winners. Here they are (with some brief commentary on the apps I’ve tried out):
Best Mobile App: L.A. Metro Alerts by Ross MacFarland (Android)
Ross MacFarland has developed an Android app that “Provides NextBus arrival times to Android phones. Highlights include bookmarking of stops and the ability to get alerts when buses/trains are a desired amount of time away.”
I don’t have an Android device and haven’t had the chance to test this app, but here’s what Metro’s judges had to say: “A great app that’s easy to use…just pick it up and use the tool – all very intuitive.”
Best NextBus Mobile App: Smart Ride By Aaron Bannert (iOS)
Aaron Bannert taps into realtime NextBus data for his app Smart Ride which “Allows the user to access nearby routes and stops, check real-time arrival predictions, track the progress along a route, and watch for transit alerts. A Favorites list can also be created for easy access to one’s favorite stops.”
Of all the apps I tried, this is my favorite. The interface is simple and the functionality is robust. For mobile iOS (iPhone, iPad) users, this app is a godsend! It uses GPS data to round up nearby stops and lists the next three arrival times (real time) for each stop. One of my favorite features in the map mode, which lets you view all nearby stops (and upcoming arrivals) from a Google Maps interface. Another fantastic feature for regular riders: stops can be saved so you can find out when your next bus is coming without any hassle.
Here’s how the Metro judges describe the app: “Has a great look and feel, and provides a route and stop selection process that is easy to use.”
Best Mobile App (College): CSULA Transit by Robert Martin and Andrew Greene (iOS)
Cal State L.A. developers Robert Martin and Andrew Greene win the college category with this iOS app that “Displays real-time updates for all buses arriving at the Cal State LA campus using NextBus prediction services. Also displays upcoming Metrolink train arrivals.”
The app includes the major transit stops for CSULA including the University Transit Center, El Monte Busway and Cal State Metrolink Station. Users can click on their stop and find the next trip times for all arriving transit. The software is simple, focused and fast. Should be a boon for transit oriented Cal State coeds.
Here’s what Metro judges had to say: ““A simple yet user-friendly app with a design well suited for handhelds.”
Don’t have a smart phone? Check out the best web mashups after the jump.
Best Web Mashup: Walkscore Public Transit API By Aleisha Jacobson, Matt Lerner and Josh Herst
Walkscore “Returns the Transit Score for a location and provides easy access to nearby public transit stops and routes. Programmers can use the Public Transit API on their sites as well.”
This well known web app puts Metro data to a great and unique use: assessing neighborhoods for that oh so desirable walkability factor. Just type in your address and have the software compute your score based on nearby transit service and local amenities. My downtown hood scores a solid 100% in transit accessibility – it’s considered a “Rider’s Paradise” – thanks to the 99 nearby bus routes and 6 rail lines. How does your neighborhood measure up?
Metro’s judges on the app: “An excellent tool for assessing the walkability of different neighborhoods and areas.”
Best Web Mashup (Mapping): Multimodal Trip Helper By C. K. Wong
Multimodal Trip Helper “Highlights bus arrival predictions and bikeways to enable users to better plan their transit-bicycle trips.”
This web app (which requires the Microsoft Silverlight plug-in) is like Metro’s Nextrip web app on steroids. It combines Nextrip data and an interactive map that features your selected bus route (and every stop) along with bikeways. Even if you’re not using it to plan multimodal trips, it’s a great way to get an idea of a particular bus route and the stops along the way.
Here’s what Metro’s judges thought: “Very handy to have routing and realtime data in relationship with bike routes.”
The best part? All these apps are free! So get downloading, and see if they don’t improve your Metro experience. The full list of winning apps, along with other mobile resources, can be found here: http://www.metro.net/around/mobile-resources/