Tube strikes are coming to London and although TFL has issued their own travel advice for frustrated commuters we thought we’d round up some of the best apps for dealing with the chaos.
Of course, you might just decide to wake up a couple of hours early and strike out on foot, phone map in hand (Google’s Maps comes with built-in public transport links as well), but if you want a bit more specialist advice, check out our selection below:
Your best bet to avoid the crush at the tube station is to simply plan out an alternate route using buses. For this task there’s no better app then Citymapper: it’s free, it’s easy to use and it gives you a wealth of information including alternate routes and wait times for buses. However, if the roads are as crammed this week as they were last time (and let’s face it, that’s a dead cert) then you might be stuck.
Wikipedia tells me that although the Chinese word for crisis isn’t in fact the same as the word for opportunity, that’s no reason to let this crisitunity pass you by. The Walk the Tube app offers less information about public transport than CityMapper but is much better at encouraging healthy behaviour. Offering walking times between tube stops, a calorie counter and pedometer, this free app promises it will help you get the Tube out of your system.
If you’ve got a bit more cash in the pocket then there’s a wealth of apps you can use to order a taxi with a tap of your smartphone. At the top of the market is San Francisco based Uber, who offer private cars including BMWs and Jaguars. However, they like to hike prices at peak times (they call it ‘surge pricing’) and there’s less of their drivers on the road. More affordable options include Hailo, who gives you access to 13,000 of London’s 24,000 black cabs - but also impose minimum fares on short journeys; and Kabbee, who offer you a prices from various minicab firms. Addison Lee also offer their own dedicated app (recently given a rather slick looking makeover) and have promised ahead of the strikes that they won't be raising their prices. All are free to download for iOS and Android devices - just enter a query into your search engine of choice.
Cycle Hire App
The official app for London’s cycle hire program costs 60p for iPhones and 75p for Android handsets and gives you live updates on how many bikes are available at each of the capital’s 700 stations. CityMapper also offers this info, but the Cycle Hire app includes extra features like marking favourite docking stations and journeys, setting alarms for returning the bike, and also finding ‘cycle friendly routes’. If you’re not a frequent cyclist in the city then the Tube strike might not be the wisest time to start biking, but it’s worth downloading the app for the sunnier days ahead.
National Rail Enquiries
If your commute to work places you outside the bounds of a healthy cycle or walk, then the free National Rail Enquires app is a must for traveling by train in the UK. There are live updates of delays and cancellations, the ability to save favourite journeys or follow a train’s progress, and best of all, there’s also a built in alarm to wake you up before your train arrives at the station - hopefully on time.
And what to download if you’re stuck…
Of course, all the apps in the world won’t save you from the sheer obstinancy of London transport, and it’s likely that you’ll spend some part of your commute stuck in traffic or waiting for a train. For those moments, we've created our own list of pleasing distractions (actually dating back to the previous tube strikes) ranging from favourite podcasts to more obscure pastimes.