Whether it’s avoiding traffic or working out the best public transport option for your route to work, there’s sure to be an app that will help make your daily commute just a little easier.
We checked out seven that could be particularly useful for navigating Cape Town’s streets.
Where is my Transport – Taxis
Minibus taxis are by far the most commonly-used form of transport in Cape Town, yet up until very recently their routes, fares and frequencies had remained unmapped and un’apped’. But all of that changed last year with the launch of an open source platform called Where is my Transport that collected three weeks’ worth of in-depth research into the buzzing network of Cape Town’s 600+ taxi routes and collated it all into a colourful, but most importantly, useful map.
The taxi routes have also been integrated with data for other modes of public transport to help simplify the commute for those who use multiple means to get to and from work. But best of all? Where is my Transport aren’t keeping the information to themselves and have instead made it available to anyone who may want to build an app or a website to make it easier for commuters to move. As Graeme Leighton, the coordinator of the project, explains: “We believe that the information challenge in our cities undermines our infrastructure. We want to make the systems that exist more accessible for everyone.”
GoMetro – Trains, buses and taxis
Keeping you updated about Metrorail, Golden Arrow, MyCiti, Gauteng Rapid Rail and Rea Vaya, GoMetro is the essential pocket-companion for commuters using public transport in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. Apart from offering users updated schedules, the locations of stops and route information, an ‘email your boss’ button was recently added to the app for those infamous train delay days. Employees on their way to work who are delayed or late due to train delays and disruptions can now send their employers an Email or they can access it via USSD by dialling *120*4668#
Google Maps traffic – Travel by car
Honestly, what did we even do before the advent of Google Maps? And it just keeps getting better – one of the latest features allows you to hail an Uber through the app! But what we’re really interested in for the purposes of this article, is the traffic feature. Using GPS-determined locations transmitted by a large number of mobile phone users and calculating the speed of drivers along a length of road, Google Maps’ nifty little overlay (selected from the three stripes menu option in the top left-hand corner of the app) is able to offer users real-time traffic data. This is especially useful for commuters whose working hours offer them a measure of flexibility and are able to wait traffic out to or from work.
Cape Town Buses and Trains – Buses and trains
A World Design Capital 2014 project, this app is designed specifically for commuters requiring information about Metrorail trains and MyCiti buses. It offers a quick and easy way for commuters to find stops/stations close-by when the next train/bus is departing from their chosen station and also has real-time feedback buttons to alert fellow commuters about delays. Sadly, the app seems to be severely out of date, especially as far as MyCiti bus routes are concerned but may be of use to those commuting on routes directly surrounding the city (Sea Point, Vredehoek, Oranjezicht). The train schedules generally seem to be accurate and up to date.
Waze – Travel by car
Part social community and part online game, Waze is definitely the most fun you can have with a traffic app. Powered by its community, Waze calculates the driving time of logged-in users on various main routes and then converts this into useful routing and traffic updates. Apart from passively contributing by driving with the app open, so your personal traffic information is transmitted, the app also allows users to play a more active role by sharing road reports on accidents, police traps, or any other hazards along the way. Users can even log petrol prices, making it easy for you to fill up for cheaper. The app officially launched in South Africa in 2012 and has since gathered a massive local database, making it a hugely reliable traffic-avoidance resource for city-dwellers around the country.
MyCiti mobile – MyCiti buses
If you’ve ever tried navigating the MyCiti bus website, you’ll know that it could be somewhat confusing with too much information crammed into too little space. The mobile site, however, is wonderfully minimalistic and easy to use, with trip planning, finding your nearest stop and alerts being the main focus. The drop-down menu offers access to other important info, such as fare prices, timetables and route maps, among other things. Whether you’re a MyCity newbie or take the bus several times to several destinations per day, the mobile site will certainly come in handy.
TCT (Transport for Cape Town) – Buses, trains and car
This official app by the City of Cape Town presents the commuter with all the available scheduled public transport options and those in private vehicles with various routes for reaching their destinations. It covers route maps and timetables for Metrorail, MyCity and Golden Arrow, helping users choose the best and most timely option for getting from point A to point B. It also offers the option for users to report any obstructions, accidents, roadworks etc as they travel, making it easier for other users to avoid certain routes and use others instead. While the app holds a lot of potential it seems relatively under-utilised. Many reviews mention the fact that you need to register in order to use it as the biggest turn-off.
Bicycle Cape Town – Cycling
Despite a growing trend of recreational cycling among Capetonians, commuting by bicycle hasn’t quite taken off as the city had hoped when it first started constructing special lanes and routes in 2008. This is also clear in the diversity – or lack thereof – of apps to help cyclists navigate the city. However, the Bicycle Cape Town website is a great resource for both locals and visitors. If you select ‘Ride’ from the menu at the top of the site, you will be taken through to a page jam-packed with information about everything from routes and maps to cycling laws and rentals to safety concerns and contact details for reporting issues.
: Cape Town Partnership Nadia Krige