Navigating the New York City Transit System

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subway trainWe are going to go on record and say it: Even with the fare hikes, “train traffic” ahead and weekend issues, New Yorkers are blessed with one of the best mass transit systems in the world. However, If you are not sure to to navigate the transit system, check out these apps.

Google Maps Transit
Simply enter the address for where you want to go, and Google will show you all of the routes. You can pick an icon for your preferred mode of transportation —bus, train, foot, bicycle, cart — to pull up directions and estimated travel time. Tip: The first option Google offers up is the fastest one.

Why you might like it
Google Maps Transit is fairly easy to use given how feature-rich it is, and there’s a step-by-step help page if you do get lost looking for directions. And since there’s a desktop version, it’s there for you even if you don’t use a smartphone. Best of all, you can see all of your options on one map — including shorter and longer routes for each transportation method — and if you’re feeling lazy (or achy), you can choose to see see which mass transit route involves the least amount of walking. We also like the Schedule Explorer feature, which shows you how times of day/traffic might affect your journey. Plus,
Google makes it easy for you to email yourself your directions or print them.

Rating: 3
Free. Available for computers, smartphones/tablets. Desktop, Android, iOS.
Visit Google Maps Transit

We are going to go on record and say it: Even with the fare hikes, “train traffic” ahead and weekend issues, New Yorkers are blessed with one of the best mass transit systems in the world. That is, unless you have a mobility issue or like to carry very heavy loads as you travel around town.

That’s where Wheely NYC comes in. Developed by Anthony Driscoll, an MFA candidate at Parsons School of Design who saw how his dad with MS struggled to get around, this app helps you plan your journey via accessible stations. The pointers continue once you’re out of the subway, too, with notes on nearby places (cafes, stores) that are accessible.

Why you might like it
This app not only tells you whether a station has an elevator; it also lets you know if that elevator is actually working. Because the MTA likes to hide its elevator entrances, the app even shows you a photograph of the one you’re looking for and gives directions to it. Too bad Wheely is only for NYC!

Rating: 4
Free. Available for smartphones/tablets on Android, iOS
Visit WheelyNYC

CityMapper is very similar to Google Maps, but has better real-time mass transit updates. An added bonus: It gives you expected weather conditions for your destination.

Why you might like it If you find less crowded screens easier to handle, you might find CityMapper’s interface a little bit more usable than Google Maps’.

Rating: 4
Free. Available for smartphones/tablets on Android, iOS
Visit CityMapper

MoovIt has an even cleaner design than CityMapper’s and offers pretty much the same features as Google Maps. Bonus: It’s available in several foreign cities, so makes for a great travel companion. The app also shows you your closest subway station — a big plus when you’re lost — and tells you when you can expect the next bus to show up. (It does the same for subways, but those times might be wildly “estimated.”)

Why you might like it
You can contribute to the daily data by sharing your public transportation experiences, and you’ve got to love crowdsourcing — by the people, for the people. We also like MoovIt’s little mascot-like logo.

Rating: 3
Free. Available for smartphones/tablets on Android, iOS, Windows
Visit MoovIt

The best thing about Embark is that it is fast and works even when you don’t have an Internet connection — maybe it’ll help you figure out why your train is stuck in the tunnel.

Why you might like it For those times when simple is better than bells and whistles, this app wins. The customized trip option is detailed without being overbearing, and Embark gives you just one option — the fastest one.

Rating: 3
Free. Available for smartphones/tablets on iOS
Visit Embark

March 2021

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