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Technology Review

The ‘Transit’ App

By Ron Scopelliti

Although I’m a true believer in the value of public transit, I don’t take the bus as often as I should. One of the things that’s kept me away from RIPTA in the past has been the cumbersome task of sorting through route maps and schedules, particularly when using a web browser on the relatively small screen of an iPhone SE.

Fortunately, RIPTA stepped up their game at the end of last year by partnering with “Transit,” a free app for Android and Apple devices.

“Transit” lets users plan their mass transit travels not only with RIPTA, but with nearby participating agencies such as Boston’s MBTA. According to a RIPTA news release, “Transit” is active in 125 cities worldwide.

The app can spot where you are, and give you a list of all the transportation options available. Choose a bus route and press “GO,” and “Transit” will tell you when and where the nearest bus is scheduled to arrive, how long it will take you to walk to the bus stop, and how long it will take you to reach your ultimate destination. It also keeps track of the bus’s progress in real time, showing you where it is on its route.

Testing the app out on a recent weekday, I sat down for coffee at the Smithfield Barnes and Noble while I waited for the #58 bus from Smithfield to Providence. As the arrival time neared I opened “Transit” to check on the bus’s progress and could see it moving on the map, turning off Rte. 44. I followed its route on my phone until it pulled up and parked just outside the bookstore window.

Instead of hopping on the bus to Providence, I decided to give the app a more elaborate test, asking “Transit” to plan a trip for the next morning from my house in Esmond to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. After typing in my address and desired destination, the app quickly showed that I’d be in for a six-minute walk to the bus stop, a half-hour bus ride to the Providence Amtrak Station, a one-minute walk from the bus to the Commuter Rail Platform, a one-hour and four-minute train ride to Ruggles Station, and an eight-minute walk to the museum.

While it won’t get me to replace my car as my preferred mode of transportation, I’ll definitely put “Transit” to work the next time my car is in the shop, or I just feel like sitting back and enjoying the ride. For more information, visit the “Transit” website at www.transitapp.com