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Finally, a trip-planning app that mixes bike share and transit

I am here. I want to get there as quickly and easily as possible. I have a Pronto bike share key and an ORCA Card. What’s my best route?

Popular trip-planning apps like Google Maps or the Transit App assume you are walking to catch the bus or train. Like so many people in Seattle, I would love to bike all or part of the trip if that will save me time. But those apps don’t mix modes. You are either biking or taking transit, never biking to catch transit.

But Citymapper has finally changed that. The iOS and Android app is pioneering multimodal urban transportation trip planning by showing you the fastest ways to get where you’re going using all the transportation assets available to you (it will also combine transit and ride-sharing if you’re into that). And no surprise, combining bikes and transit is often the fastest way to get around.

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Here’s an example: Say I want to get from Central Co-op at 16th and Madison to the College Inn Pub on the Ave. I could walk to 23rd Ave to catch the 48 and get there in an estimated 33 minutes (depending on bus timing and traffic, of course). This is the fastest walking + transit option. Or I could save six minutes by hopping on Pronto and biking to Capitol Hill Station, then taking the train to UW Station, then hopping on another Pronto and biking to the pub:

IMG_5383Or I could save another minute (and train fare) by just biking Pronto the whole way, an option that is less time-competitive for the trip back up the hill. So maybe I’ll Pronto there, then Pronto + Link back. the point is, now I have a better idea of my options.

If you set the bike settings to “bike share,” you can also use the app as a trip-planning app for Pronto. This probably isn’t too useful for people who know the city (and Pronto station locations) well, but could be a big help for people starting out on the system.

Like any trip-planning app involving bikes, routes and time estimates are not perfect. But it’s a powerful tool to have at your disposal, and I hope other trip-planning apps will follow Citymapper’s lead.

More and more, urban transportation is all about mixing modes. I’m rarely just walking or just biking or just taking transit. So it’s about time trip-planning apps caught up.

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17 responses to “Finally, a trip-planning app that mixes bike share and transit”

  1. Roanoke Rebel

    Cool! Installed it, set up my “home” and “work” locations. It calculated my bike-only commute time down to the minute, in my experience. The fastest commute time including transit it could offer was slower (no surprise), but that’s good to know, too. There’s a humorous “alternative” mode and trip time that’s waaaaaay faster, but I’ll let others find it. :-)

    1. Merlin Rainwater

      Does the “alternative” travel time include walking to and from the alternative vehicle, and finding a place to store the alternative vehicle??

      1. Roanoke Rebel

        It’s hard to respond without giving away the alternative mode. Uh…it’s not exactly a “vehicle”. I suppose you could keep it in a closet, or maybe hang it on a heavy-duty coat rack. The walk time would be to an open space outdoors. (Have I said too much? ;-) )

  2. Tim F

    It did a pretty good job recommending my 65-522-Pronto commute. This beats the fastest bus-only commute by about 5 minutes. The (non-Pronto) bike-only route is 10 minutes faster still (fairly accurate in my experience), but the Pronto+bus burns only a handful more calories than walking to the bus stop, so I make that time back avoiding a shower at work.

  3. Will it mix biking (not Pronto) with transit? I can’t figure out how to get it to do that…

    1. Roanoke Rebel

      It looks like not, that I can find. :-( (It’d be nice.)

    2. GlenBikes

      I can’t find that either. It had me walk from Montlake Freeway stop to the Pacific Ave underground (huh?) bus stop which would certainly be faster by bicycle.

    3. Gordon

      It has an option to select private bike rather than bike share, but it seems incapable of calculating routes using that option :(

    4. Austin

      Looks like this other app (iOS) works for private bike + transit

  4. Robert

    I’ll tell ya what…after the catastrophic UI update to One Bus Away, I’ll give this Cityplanner a shot and see if it works for me. Anything has to better than the disaster that once was one of my workhorse, super easy to use apps.

  5. asdf2

    I tried out the app and it definitely does some great things. I like being able to select start/end points of the map, rather than have to type in an address, and I also like the idea of combining multiple modes. It was a very clean interface, and I like seeing all the options side-by-side.

    Some improvements I would like to see – it appears as though the “multi-modal” mode only supports combining either bike-sharing or Uber with transit. It doesn’t seem to support combining transit with Car2Go (although it does support Car2Go trips standalone), nor does it seem to support bike+transit trips that involve carrying one’s personal bike on board the bus. For instance, inputing a trip home from SeaTac airport at midnight (where trains only go as far as Beacon Hill) fails to suggest catching a Car2Go at Beacon Hill Station as an option, instead proposing either much longer bus options with multiple transfers, or Uber all the way.

    Car2Go, in particular, exposes some interesting combo opportunities. For example, if you are starting a trip downtown at a time when there are no Car2Go’s downtown, Pronto’ing or bus’ing to the nearest car could be an option if the bike route is short and flat, or the bus route is direct and arriving very soon (in fact, pretty much any local bus coming out of downtown is likely to come stumble upon a Car2Go at some point during the route, just by luck).

    Another interesting Car2Go combo is a trip that rides the car most of the way, but switches over to a local bus at the end in order to reach a destination that is just a couple miles beyond the home area boundary. (With the point of the car, rather than busing it the whole way being to to time the connection at the end so that the wait time is 5 minutes rather than 25 minutes).

    I also think the app could be more aggresive about suggesting Uber/bus combo options. Sometimes, a connection is tight enough that it may or may not actually work, depending on the traffic, but I think it’s better to see the option (with a warning) than to not show it at all. Worst case, you miss the bus and the Uber driver ends up taking you all the way. It sucks, but at the end of the day, it’s only money.

  6. Cyclist

    Is there any app that will let me plan a combo bike (my own bike) and transit trip? Annoyingly lacking here and with any other app I’ve used.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      I wish! This especially seems like an easy addition to Google Maps. They already have bike directions and transit directions. Just need to smash them together.

  7. […] New app combines bikeshare and transit. […]

  8. Gary

    Ok, looks cool, but why does it need access to my photo albums? Location, yeah I get that….

  9. maggie

    Trying to weight switching from Nimbler (which has combined bike-transit in Portland, DC and SF at least two years ago), I came upon this: not sold yet, but FYI: Citymapper isn’t the first to *finally* do it

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      It is for Seattle, at least that I’ve seen.

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