By Peggy Soo
In this day and age we use our phones for just about everything. We check our emails, the time, how much we exercise (or not!), our social media account or just to read a book. I think the only thing my phone can’t do is make my bed or cook my dinner!
People always ask me how I find my way on different streets, and in particular, traveling on public transport. Like everyone else, I use my phone! I use my phone with screen magnification called Zoom which comes with all Apple devices.
One free app which I find useful for public transport is Transit. It is designed to convey public transport information in real time for trams, trains and buses Australia-wide and around the world. You can set up alarms to tell you when to leave to catch your train or bus and make a ‘favourites’ list for your own transport. You can also check how far away the transport is from your location, and even set your phone to receive notifications for when you arrive at your destination.
When you open the application, there is a map showing your current location. Swipe your finger going up to the top of the phone to receive the latest information on all the current public transport in the area.
To make a favourites list (which has all your preferred modes of transport at the top of the screen): tap on your desired transport; scroll down to see a row of icons going to the right of the screen (you might need to use three fingers to help move your screen to view the icons). You should then see a star. Tap on the star and your favourite transport will be on the top of your list of transport options.
There are bright colours to identify all the modes of transport with white writing for bus numbers and icons. The colours represent different modes of transport. For example, buses are orange, and trams (in Melbourne) are green.
The numbers on the far right of the screen show the transport’s arrival time in minutes. To check arrival times to your current location, just tap on the transport you want, tap on the map icon and you will see how far away the transport is from you. Below that information is a list of all the stops after your location. You can be notified when you arrive at your stop.
How I use this app in my everyday travels
I am currently using this app to plan a journey from my place to Greensborough (north-east of Melbourne). I open the app and tap on the arrow on the top left of the screen. Journey planner will come up.
I use my current location to start my journey. In the Destination box, I type Greensborough Plaza.
There is a Leave Now button, but you can also choose to arrive or leave at a certain time. I choose to arrive on Friday 30 September at 10am, and tap Done.
There is an Options button to choose what transport I want to use or even minimize walking (I have this already set up to show me trams, trains and buses and not to minimise walking). You can choose a variety of modes of transport from trams, trains, buses, bike share and Uber.
Once the information is typed in, the transport information comes up with the bus I should catch, what time I should leave home and what time I will arrive at my destination.
The disadvantage of this app is that I can’t set my alarm to leave home before the date I wish to travel. I have to set this up on the day I leave. Sometimes information isn’t as accurate if train routes or timetabling information is changed.
I love this app as it has real time information about public transport. It gives information about which side of the road my bus stop is on, and the map shows the direction of travel. This is great if you are new to a city and aren’t quite sure about where you are going.
However, using Zoom, it is difficult to track what is on the map, but you can scroll down to the list of stops and follow the blue dot which represents your location and where you are going, so there is no need to look at the map.
The app receives updates about late or cancelled transport. That said, it is a good idea to still have the local transport apps handy for your area, as specific updates about disruptions may not appear in real time.
I have found Transit to be useful and give me more independence when travelling, without having to rely on other people to get from A to B.