CDTA released an update to its iPhone app this week, so we decided to check it out. And it's pretty cool.
The app has four primary functions: map, stop finder, trip planner, advisories. The map alone would be worth a download, but the other functions are helpful, too -- especially if you don't ride the same route all the time or you're not a hardcore CDTA rider.
The app includes a system map, along with detail maps for Albany, Saratoga Springs and Watervliet/Troy. (Oddly, there's no Schenectady detail map.) The maps zoom in and out with the standard iPhone tap/pull/pinch gestures. There's also a "locate my spot" crosshairs (which uses GPS), like in Google maps and other apps.
One thing that would have been nice: to be able to tap a stop and pull up its info.
The stop finder is even better than a clickable map, though. It includes three options: locate nearby stops, search stops, browse by route. The "locate" function is great -- it uses GPS to figure out where you're at and then pulls up nearby stops. A tap on a stop pulls up info on the next scheduled arrivals (and, with another tap, a map). The "search" function returns a huge list of stops (sorted alphabetically) with a search field. The "browse" function is another list, this time sorted by route number.
This is great. You tell it where you're at (or let it guess using GPS), where you want to go, when you want to go and it returns a list of routes you could take. The trip details include stop info, travel time and cost. There are also links to pedestrian maps.
Basically a stream of notes about service advisories.
One thing that could have been helpful
As one of the app's reviewers noted, a "favorites" list of routes or destinations, which would navigating the app faster and could be used to notify riders of changes/advisories/upcoming arrivals.
And... it'd be good to have apps for other phones, too. Not everyone has an iPhone (or, for that matter, a smartphone).
Bonus: CDTA is testing a stripped-down text message service for upcoming arrivals.
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