Monthly Archives: June 2015

Transfer-by-Transfer, Step-by-Step Transit Directions?

Does anyone know if there is a good app for step-by-step transit directions for any city?

Thinking about my girlfriend navigating the Chicago transit system during her work trip this week, I started wondering if there are transit navigation apps as good as Waze is for vehicle navigation.

Credit to

My guess is that there is not. Generally, mass transit systems use underground transfer stations for trains and, sometimes, buses. Underground stations would make location by GPS impossible. But, I started thinking about using WiFi for locations in transit systems. According to my iPhone’s complaints every time I turn off my WiFi when I leave my house, WiFi assists in determining accurate locations.

Interestingly, New York City is in the process of installing WiFi in their subway system. I wonder if an app developer could develop an transit app that could use, say, the plain text name of WiFi networks to determine an individual’s location within an underground transit station. Say, if I were at the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority’s Pentagon station, could such a transit app, using WifI, recognize that I was on the upper floor of the station when arriving by the Yellow Line and that I had to go downstairs to catch the Blue Line?

Something like this would be extremely helpful to tourists and cut down on the time investment necessary to confidently use public transit. By increasing the use of public transportation, we’d be lowering the amount of carbon emissions. As such,as they say on Silicon Valley, we’d have an app that could save the world.