What is the best route to take? Why is my bus late? How many stops till my destination? How much will it cost for a ticket? These are just some questions asked when trying to get to X.

Mass transit companies use social media as an extension of its customer service operations and public outreach. It is one the most effective ways to reach riders concerning unexpected delays and to get feedback. However, what if you do not “like” them on Facebook or “follow” them on Twitter. How do you get the information you need in a timely manner?  Smartphones are a common accessory to most and another way to reach commuters is through their phone using mobile apps. This give commuters access and control over their commute by having the information they need in the palm of their hands. It also connects the commutes to the transit company creating a relationship between the two.

Mobile Apps can help the commuter experience run a bit smoother. From ticketing to stop alerts, you smartphone can become your personal commuter assistant in a download. Mobile ticketing gives the commuter a convenient, hassle-free experience.  The need to stand in long lines at the ticket kiosk or having the fear of losing that paper ticket are eliminated when you can purchase tickets directly from your smartphone. TriMet, the mass transit company for the Portland, Oregon metro area, uses a mobile ticketing app that allows riders to display a QR code and on-screen animation with the expiration time and date.  The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has encouraged others to develop mobile apps for its services.  One app is PromixiT is a location based alert and tracking app. It shows arrival times for your train locate the nearest station and get train times when you approach a station without opening the app. You can view all the apps in the MBTA Showcase.

For those riders that are using mass transit for the first time or seasoned riders, new to the area or looking for a route, Google can help! Google Maps has added mass transit options when directions are searched. The user can search the routes of mass transit, walking, biking and driving. It will give you the options to see what mass transit route you can take and how long it will take you.  If you are only looking for mass transit options, Google Transit or Embark can be of service.  These apps partner with the local or regional transit company by providing trip planning using the transit shared data.  The trip-planning schedule is available to share via email, text or Twitter with others as well as alert riders of delays along the desired route in real-time. Click on this video of Google Transit in New York City to see how it works.

For those who do not want to download mobile apps, they can sign up for the e-alerts from their transit company. It is usually on the website and you would simply add you email or phone to receive timely information about any route changes or delays.



Lutz, Zachary (5 September 2013). TRiMet mobile ticketing apps open to all mass transit riders in Portland area. Retrieved (19 July 2014) From Transit Partner Program. Retrieved (19 July 2014) From

H, Barb  (26 September 2012). Embark Mobile Mass Transit Apps Surpass 40 Million Trips. Retrieved (19 July 2014) From



3 thoughts on “X Marks the Spot: Social Media Applications to Help You Get to X

  1. Reading your blog reminds of the days I had to take the train and subway everyday. How much easier it would have been to order my ticket on my phone (and keep it there to not lose my physical ticket), see why the T was late or whether the C, or E subway was the next one coming through North staton. Do you think there would be less complaints if the system shared more information and more often?

    1. I think the key to a happy customer or any type of relationship is communication. More and more transit agencies are utilizing apps that show arrival time of trains and buses. This certainly helps when you may be running a minute late and so is the train!

  2. Good post. Out of curiosity, have these apps been successful? To what extent? Have they helped boost the amount of people willing to take public transit?

    Also, remember to hyperlink in-text citations in lieu of including the full URL.

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