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6 best apps for navigating NYC transit

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Never get lost (or stuck underground) again with the help of these apps

New York Citys’s MTA Issues Warning About Playing Pokemon Go On Subway Platforms Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The MTA finally entered the 21st century when, earlier this year, it unveiled a souped-up new app that puts information about its various commuting methods—subways, buses, and commuter rail lines—along with subway delays and other issues right at your fingertips.

Since the MTA was relatively late to the subway app game, plenty of competitors have launched their own apps that promise to make commuters’ lives a little easier—and have already built devoted followings. Many replicate services found in the MyMTA app, such as where trains and buses are in real time, or which lines are affected by delays.

But others provide a more comprehensive overview of the transit landscape (such as including nearby bike share stations), and or provide necessary information you won’t find in the MTA app. (See: where to board a train so you’re closest to the exit at your destination.)

So which of these apps are worth your time (and storage space?) We’ve rounded up six of the best ones below.


(free; iPhone, Android)

The most comprehensive of the third-party apps, Citymapper doesn’t just show you subway and bus information—there are also details for non-MTA commuter rail lines (PATH, NJ Transit), ride-hailing apps, Citi Bike, NYC Ferry, and even Car2Go. Searching for your destination will bring up a list of the best ways to get there, along with approximate prices for each (especially useful for Uber and Lyft). The app even takes current weather condition into account, suggesting “rain safe” modes of transit during a storm, for instance.


(free; iPhone, Android)

Transit provides real-time schedule information in a tidy, clean interface, showing the trains or buses that are closest to you, and exactly when you can expect them to arrive. Where it comes in really handy is showing how long it will take for subsequent subways or buses to reach your destination—it makes it much easier to plan ahead (or avoid something like bus bunching). The app also shows times for other modes of transit: Citi Bike, ferry, commuter rail, and the like.

Google Maps

(free; iPhone, Android)

Google’s app lets you customize your commute, setting up your most-visited points (work, home), your preferred way of traveling, and the typical time you’re coming and going. When you open the app in the morning, all of the information you need—including any delays on your usual routes—will be readily available. Another useful part of the app is its step-by-step details, which take walking and the number of stops between places into account.

Exit Strategy

($3.99, iPhone)

This app has one purpose: to show you where to stand on a subway platform in order to be near an exit. It’s especially useful in stations where there’s only one exit—like, for example, the D, N, and R at Atlantic Avenue–Barclays Center—and you don’t want to spend too much time on the platform itself.


(free; iPhone, Android)

Elevator and escalator service in subway stations is notoriously unreliable, and while the MTA’s app does show outages throughout the system, Rampd is devoted exclusively to those issues. The app will show only the stations where elevators are in service, and if you click through to a line, you can see every station with elevator access. (One flaw: It doesn’t show how many elevators are in service in a particular station.)


(free; iPhone, Android)

Moovit has similar features to other apps on this list: It provides real-time schedule information, tells you when scheduled trains are due to arrive, and offers that information for several modes of transit (subway, bus, commuter rail, etc.). Moovit differs from those in that it’s partnered with Be My Eyes, an app that assists people who are blind and visually impaired, to make commuting easier for those users. “Blind and low vision users are connected to sighted volunteers with a tap of a button, who are ready to help them navigate to work, find their way through a new environment or choose the best transit route,” the app explains.