Review of transport apps
As the lockdown continues to ease with pubs and restaurants able to open indoors along with indoor entertainment venues, demand on public transport is likely to increase, making it harder to social distance. Therefore, being able to know which routes and services are busy is going to become very important to reassure passengers and enable people to travel safely. With this in mind, London TravelWatch has been testing out some of the main mobile phone travel apps on the market to see how they fare, particularly when it comes to offering information on crowding and busyness of services and stations. You can find out how we got on below. To discover how we decided on these ratings please take a look at our rating criteria document where we go through this in more detail.
Google Maps – London TravelWatch’s recommendation
An easy to use, door-to-door journey planner that provides very good and clear information. It is a standout app compared to the others we’ve reviewed due to its excellent information that informs passengers how busy stations are and how crowded a Tube or train is in real time. Its only shortfalls seem to be around some of its accessibility information, which we have been informed is not always accurate, and in it missing some details such as the platform that a train will depart from. If this is important to you it might be best to use it in conjunction with another app.
Although good in terms of its accessibility options, it currently only has one indicator showing when the station is likely to be quieter which is based on passenger levels on the network from the previous two weeks rather than the live information which is shown on Google Maps, so this could be out-of-date. It lacks some of the detailed information provided on Citymapper, such as the times the next several trains are due to arrive at the platform rather than just the next one, though some may prefer the less busy layout.
It is a very comprehensive app, that provides information on a broad range of different modes of transport. There is much more detailed information when compared to TfL Go, though some users may be overwhelmed by the number of choices it provides. We have been informed that their accessibility and step-free information is very reliable and that the disabled people were consulted on this to ensure that it was accurate. There is again, however, no information about crowding or busy trains.
London Live Bus Countdown
An excellent app to discover how far away your bus is before it arrives at the stop. However, like most of the apps we’ve reviewed, there is no information about crowding at stops or how busy the bus is. There is also no information explaining if a bus is at capacity or whether the allocated space for wheelchair users is already taken up, which could cause a lot of inconvenience.
National Rail Enquiries
General interface is fairly basic and looks pretty outdated. The information provided is quite limited but adequate enough if users only need to know what time their train is departing and what platform it is due to arrive on. There is information about step-free access and accessible facilities at stations though the user is unable to select a step-free option from its journey planner. We are also concerned that some of the information displayed is out-of-date and has not been updated, which could inconvenience passengers. Again, information on crowding is not available.