Forgive me if you’re not in Boston, Massachusetts since this app won’t do you any good – it’s all about public transportation here in Bean Town. But if you do live in in the Boston area or will have a chance to visit the Cradle of Liberty in the near future, read on since Nexmap Boston by Nextransit is a must-have app if you take the T (subway), commuter rail, or bus.
Nexmap Boston provides real-time information about the entire public transportation system in the Boston metropolitan area. It includes interactive maps of the subway, commuter rail, and bus systems that are optimized for the iPhone 4′s retina display.
Its interface is very simple, showing only a map of all of the public transportation systems when you first open it. You can pan and zoom to find the station you’re looking for and tapping on a station will reveal the next subway, bus, or train scheduled to arrive and depart.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has done something pretty neat in the past few years – they’ve been adding GPS trackers to buses and subway cars and have made this information available to developers, which Nextransit has tapped into to provide more precise location information where available. This also yields ETA information so you can see if you need to run to make your bus or train or if you have a little more time to grab a coffee on the way to work.
At the top of the screen is a virtual pull tab that, when dragged down, will reveal a search bar where you can enter a station name to go directly to it. Nexmap Boston will also show the official MBTA system alerts – these can be viewed by tapping on the exclamation point in the top right corner of the screen.
Screenshots don’t entirely do Nexmap Boston justice and this demo video shows off the interface effectively:
I use Nexmap Boston every time I venture out into the city and I’ve found it to be incredibly useful and a pure joy to use. My only wish is for a “find me” button that would automatically pinpoint me on the map in relation to the closest station in case I venture outside of the areas I know well and just want to get to the closest station possible.
Nextransit has another app in the App Store called Nextime dedicated to public bus systems in Boston and a handful of other locations. I haven’t tried this app but if you live in Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. or Québec and use the bus systems often, I’d wager it’s worth a look as well.