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.
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:
Or 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.