Google Maps, Reviews and Other Transit Apps

Different mobile apps help us negotiate our journeys using transit, trails, walking grids, etc.  A few apps even provide reviews of different businesses from the general public or your trusted connections. There are different apps for both, but what I find most helpful is the mobile Google Maps transit option. It’s not so much just for the transit feature itself, but being able to combine it with ratings and reviews of places I may want to visit.

Bryn Mawr Pizza and Deli happens to be a favorite of mine. Google them on your mobile device and you’ll see something like this:

Bryn Mawr Pizza and Deli

Bryn Mawr Pizza and Deli

Scroll down to see other reviews. Sounds like my next trip will be for a Dougwich:

Reviews for Bryn Mawr Pizza and Deli

Reviews for Bryn Mawr Pizza and Deli

And of course, the transit app itself is really slick. The Metro Transit light rail transit (LRT) is listed when available, but doesn’t show here since there’s no LRT close to Bryn Mawr:

Transit Options for Bryn Mawr Pizza and Deli

Transit Options for Bryn Mawr Pizza and Deli

The same app can help with events, too. On Sunday, perhaps I’ll see you when I’ll be walking around for Open Streets Minneapolis: Franklin. When searching for the event on Google Maps, it brings you to the Hope Community Center, the event’s base on Franklin Avenue:

Google Maps for Open Streets Minneapolis

Google Maps for Open Streets Minneapolis

If you’re near Target Field, there are a couple of transit options for reaching Hope Community Center:

Transit Options

Transit Options

Beyond the Google app, if you are planning to go to Open Streets on Sunday, you can take advantage of Metro Transit’s free rides from 9 AM to 5 PM. It’s a quick process where you click and take a two question survey to be able to print your free ticket or take a screenshot of it with your smartphone:

Transit Pass for Open Streets

Transit Pass for Open Streets

Planning to walk or bike to a Gophers or Vikings football game at TCF Bank Stadium? The transit feature is current and updated quite well. From my home, they provide both the new Green Line and bus options for transit:

Transit Options for TCF Bank Stadium

Transit Options for TCF Bank Stadium

Interested in cycling? The app gives you directions by using the wonderful Dinkytown Greenway:

TCF Bank Stadium via Dinkytown Greenway

TCF Bank Stadium via Dinkytown Greenway

Speaking of reviews, TCF Bank Stadium certainly has a mix:

Reviews for TCF Bank Stadium

Reviews for TCF Bank Stadium

Future features I’d love to see would be Nice Ride stations listed as a bicycle option and, while Google Maps does have a free transit partner program for public or private organizations providing transit to be included in search results, I would love to see car-sharing services like Uber included, too:

Uber as Transit Option

Uber as Transit Option

Another transit app I have on my phone is Transit Tracker which has a really nice feature you can use choose your your transit preference by bus, LRT or Northstar commuter rail:

Transit Tracker App

Transit Tracker App

One feature I wish this app had is the ability to find routes by using business names with their Trip Planner feature. Currently, I would have to type in the address or cross streets as business names haven’t showed any results:

No Love for Coastal?

No Love for Coastal?

There are plenty of other Metro Transit apps out there as well. I’m sure many of you have favorites. Let us know in the comments; we’d love to hear from you!

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17 Responses to Google Maps, Reviews and Other Transit Apps

  1. Mike Sonn
    mikesonn August 14, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    OMG Transit is great for showing real time arrivals if you already know the route you want to take. I use it ALL the time.

    • Claudio R August 14, 2014 at 10:06 am #

      I second this!

      Transit App also shows you routes and bus stops (which is helpful when you’re on a bus with alternate routes), has a trip planner, and is beautifully designed.

      • Anne August 15, 2014 at 10:58 am #

        Ah, helpful tip! Just downloaded it (Transit App), and I like it already!

    • Anne August 15, 2014 at 10:54 am #

      I wish the directions (northbound, southbound, etc) would be clearer. I frequently board on a diagonal street that isn’t strictly N/S or E/W, and the arrows are all over the place and misleading.

      It does work really well for routes like the 21 though, which have different letters attached (or not) based on direction. But you have to know those in advance.

      • Matt Decuir August 15, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

        Hey Anne – I’m one of the co-founders of OMG, and this is great feedback. Thanks for sharing!

        Showing which direction the bus (or stop) is facing has always been a sticking point. Because some routes in the Twin Cities include letters (like the 21A, 21D, etc…), instead of listing letters to indicate the cardinal direction, we opted to show arrows instead. But that’s done at the *bus* level, not the *bus stop* level, which makes it especially confusing if you’re bus stop is on a diagonal street.

        Further, some some stops have multiple routes that go different directions (i.e. Nicolett Mall & 3rd has buses that are both Northbound AND Eastbound).

        The best solution would be to show the direction traffic is flowing at the *bus stop* level, but that poses a difficult, technical problem. As someone who’s not a developer, I can assure you that I’ve bugged our developers a lot to try to solve this problem. For now, the current arrow system sort of works, but only if you know what you’re looking at.

        Hopefully this is helpful. If you have any other questions or feedback, please shoot us an email at hello@omgtransit.com!

        Matt

        • Anne August 15, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

          Thanks for the response. I’m seeing now that if I actually look at the stop on a map, it has more of the information I’m looking for, so it’s also possible I haven’t been using the app to its fullest potential.

          Knowing what the arrows are supposed to indicate is helpful, though!

          • Matt Decuir August 15, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

            Excellent – keep me posted if you have any other questions!

    • Matt Decuir August 15, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

      Hey Mike – Thanks for your support. I’m one of the co-founders of OMG. Please shoot us an email if you have any issues! hello@omgtransit.com

      Matt

  2. Walker Angell
    Walker Angell August 14, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    Great post!

    There are so many great and useful apps. Spotcycle is one of my most used. There’s also MN511, Bike Hub, CycleStreets, Nice Ride, …

    One the the best transit apps is The Netherlands 9292 that provides a gob of information about buses, trains, trams, subways, and ferry’s throughout The Netherlands from trip planning, time tables, arrival times, and costs to current and planned maintenance. Their OV-Chipkaart app provides info on your public transit pass (works on every bus, train, tram, ferry, and subway throughout NL) including balances, product loads, past uses, etc.

  3. Michael August 14, 2014 at 11:09 am #

    If you have the Uber app installed on your iPhone, Google maps will include the option to use Uber under the transit function

    • Walker Angell
      Walker Angell August 14, 2014 at 11:37 am #

      Michael, thanks for pointing that out. I use Uber a fair amount and never once noticed that buried down at the bottom of the list of route options.

  4. Matt Brillhart August 14, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    I use a combination of OMG Transit and Metro Transit’s mobile website.

    If you board the bus at only a few specific stops (i.e. home, work, school), I haven’t found anything better/quicker than simply creating a bookmark to Metro Transit’s NexTrip mobile site with that stop number plugged in. One tap from my home screen and I have the arrival time I need.

    Did anyone else observe that OMG Transit’s Car2Go data was broken for like at least a month this summer? Or was that just my phone/app? It’s fixed now, but for a while I was not getting current Car2Go location data. Does anyone prefer the official Car2Go app to OMG Transit?

    • Matt Decuir August 15, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

      Hey Matt – I’m one of the co-founders of OMG, and I really appreciate your feedback.

      You’re correct – we’ve been experiencing some issues with our car2go data. Long story short, there’s a bug that our developers are aware of, but haven’t been able to fix yet. As a result, either car2go wasn’t showing up in the list view, or, even worse, it was showing inaccurate locations for cars on the map. Rest assured, we’re trying to fix this problem, but for now, I’d recommend using the car2go app instead. Sorry for the inconvenience!

      If you have any other issues, questions or feedback, feel free to shoot us an email at hello@omgtransit.com!

      Cheers,

      Matt

  5. Janelle Nivens
    Janelle August 14, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

    I use Google maps to plan walks and bus trips. I wish I could plan routes with multiple modes of transportation. Google could help us all see how we can add a few more steps into our days. If your wish for Nice Ride Stations could be added, we could build in a bike ride into our trip. So many possibilities!

    Happy trails!

  6. Paul Jahn
    Paul Jahn August 15, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    Thanks Janelle and everyone for your responses. Feel free to keep ’em coming.

    Matt, I’m definitely going to have to check out OMG transit. I’m always looking for info regarding NiceRides and how many are available at stations and it looks like it’s integrated very well.

    I’ll have to check out Transit App as well.

    • Matt Decuir August 15, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

      Thanks Paul, and thanks for writing such a great, informative article!

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  1. Open Streets Minneapolis – Sustainable Transportation, Seward Businesses and Even Cute Dogs | streets.mn - August 21, 2014

    […] few of you know that I’m fond of objectively reading local online reviews while using public transit. Here are a couple reviews of businesses and projects that represented at Open […]

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