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Transport / Mass transit

What is Moovit, and could it replace Citymapper?

In an age where “making an app” is about as impressive as “creating a Word document”, we’re cautious about tooting the horn of whatever’s turned up in the app store that morning. However, a new transport app, which arrives in London this week, claims to already have 15m users worldwide – so we thought it was worth checking out.

Moovit is an Israeli public transport navigation app that’s now available in around 500 cities around the world. Its landing screen looks like this: 

The app functions in basically the same way as other navigation apps: it helps you plan trips, save regular journeys and compare routes. At the moment, it’s a little slower and less responsive than other apps, and offers an animated step-by-step journey guide rather than an overview, which could be annoying for some.

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It does, however, display a constantly updating ETA at the top of the screen, which we can’t deny is very handy for those “going to be 5/5/130 minutes late” texts:

Since London transport made its data public, any Johnny-come-lately can launch a transport app which feeds off the same signal used by TfL’s electronic noticeboards. But Moovit’s selling point is its use of crowd-sourced data – it tracks users’ journeys, and therefore any delays or distruptions, meaning other users aren’t just relying on official alerts and information. It’s a tactic already used by car-hire company Waze (which Google recently bought for $1.1bn); Waze founder Uri Levine is a Moovit board member. 

The app will need a couple of tens of thousands of users before the crowdsourced data will start making a difference, though, so the app’s success will rely on, well, its success. Earlier this week Alex Torres, Moovit’s Vice President, told Wired magazine that he hopes the app will become more than a navigation tool in future: 

The startup’s aim is to act as an “agnostic forum”, which would draw together all the players in the transport scheme.

This could mean identifying and fixing transport issues, or holding “symposiums about urban mobility”. Your move, Citymapper. Try to come up with something that sounds less wanky than”agnostic forum”, though. 

Screenshots: Moovit.
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