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Tuesday, November 3, 2015
An app that's a better alternative to Google Maps
It’s incredibly frustrating when you arrive at your bus or train station just to find out the service is unavailable for the day. The next best option is to trek to the nearest available stop, or to hail an expensive taxi. The problem is exacerbated when you realize hundreds of other commuters will try the same tactic, resulting in scarce taxis or unruly, crowded public transport.
In some cities localised services provide information on train and bus schedules, but they’re not always updated in real time around the clock. In such cases, crowdsourced information can be a powerful tool to instantly relay information.
And that’s what Moovit is trying to achieve. The Israeli start-up uses a combination of official data – readily available in cities such as London, New York, and San Francisco, as well as feedback from users to give real-time updates on all transportation services. These include buses, trains, and subway networks. It has 28 million users spread across 700 cities and 58 countries.
Moovit’s user experience is far more engaging and friendly than Google Maps.
“One of our key differentiators is how we deal with data,” says Alex Torres, vice president of marketing at Moovit. “Transportation is unreliable and there’s no way to predict whether a bus or train is delayed. We’re gathering feedback, data, and reports coming from our users with the official data we have.”
Alex points to the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) – a way for public transit agencies to publish their data and allow developers to code applications utilizing the data – as the major problem. Almost all transportation companies use this format but it’s not updated very frequently