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L.A. transit officials release free iPhone app

Go-metro-iphone-appBus and subway commuters have one less thing to complain about -- as long as they have an iPhone.

Addressing a fairly common complaint, Metro has launched an official iPhone application. Go Metro, available as a free download from Apple's App Store, works on the iPod Touch too. But to use it, you need to have an Internet connection, which makes it less handy for iPod owners.

Go Metro offers travel tips, can help arrange trips across town and presents news alerts from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The app can use the phone's GPS to show you a Google Map pinpointing the nearest subway station or bus stop.

The transportation authority contracted New York-based mobile developer Usablenet to build the app. The company also provides mobile services for the commuter systems in New York and Boston.

For more than a year, a few enterprising iPhone coders have been selling apps that offer L.A. Metro timetables and trip planners. And according to App Store reviews on Go Metro's page, some of the paid alternatives offer more features.

"One of the things that we typically do is run an app in the App Store for a month to collect that feedback," Jason Taylor, Usablenet vice president of global product strategy, said in a phone interview with The Times. "I would imagine that that feedback would result in a 2.0 [version] that would address those concerns."

Usablenet was only contracted to create this one app and provide routine maintenance, not feature updates. However, Taylor said cities and companies generally commission the developer for follow-up versions based on the feedback they receive.

Metro.net, the transit system's website, offers a mobile-optimized version of the site. Unlike many sites that offer mobile versions, Metro.net doesn't automatically redirect to it when you surf from a phone. Rather, you must navigate to m.metro.net. A Metro spokeswoman said she would look into having a redirect added.

[Corrected, 12:55 p.m. A previous version of this post said Metro.net doesn't offer a mobile site.]

About one-third of traffic from cellphones to Metro.net comes from the iPhone, Taylor said. But hits from Google's Android phones are growing, he said, so one might guess that Droid commuters might be the next to get serviced with an app. BlackBerry riders may be left waiting at the platform.

-- Mark Milian

Image credit: Usablenet

Comments () | Archives (7)

When is the Adroid Version coming out?

What would be really useful is an app that tells you when your bus is five minutes from the stop you use.

With the MTA, everyone's left at the platform. I've tried taking the 2 down sunset a few times, only to wait and wait. Finally giving up, I walk back to my car and take it the several miles I needed to go, without seeing a bus the whole way.

Hopefully a LADOT app will come out soon. In other big cities, you can get real time information via the GPS on the busses and trains to tell you how long the wait will be. It also has the same features of finding the nearest bus stops, subway stops, etc. Come on LA, become a big player in public transpo at least on my Android!

Although Metro’s Build 1.0 app is initially only available for iPhone and iPod Touch, Metro continues to offer a mobile-optimized version of metro.net, where transit information is accessible to all mobile browsers at http://m.metro.net and http://metro.net.mobile. More good news: Metro’s mobile website has been redesigned and expanded to include Metro’s Next Trip (a web application), Metro Rapid Real Time Arrivals (a web application), Service Alerts via Twitter, and I-405 Daily Construction Updates (via twitter); along with basic transit information.

Great, now all we need is a viable public transit system like the BART and we're rockin Los Angeles. #MTAMAJORFAIL

I hope it works better than the trip finder on their website. I wanted to get from 3rd/La Cienega to Crescent Heights/Fountain the other day (I know that there's one bus that goes there and then heads to the valley, I couldn't remember the #). The MTA website directed me to take the 3rd street bus downtown and switch to the Santa Monica Blvd. Total trip time? two hours.

I drove.

GIVE ME AN ANDROID APP! Out of all of my friends only 1 in 8 have iphone the rest have some form of android phone and this trend is only growing exponentially from what I see, Android is takin over the market, MTA get with the program. I would love this app for my Galaxy S.


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