By Maxim Tamarov, news correspondent
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) endorsed a Montreal-based transit application as its official mobile app Tuesday, Sept. 6 as part of its efforts to connect with its customers.
The winning app, Transit App, competed alongside three other finalists, Moovel, Moovit and Swiftly, in a competition held by the MBTA this summer. Transit App presents users with all nearby bus and train stations, as well as bike and ride-sharing options. It also has trip-planning features, reports on expected delays and real-time locations for nearby trains.
“The more options, the better off the city is,” said Transit App representative Laura Jane Heller. “MBTA is one of the many agencies integrated into the app. We have a number of the suburban lines [or] you can grab an Uber — it’s not just about using public transportation.”
The finalists presented their product to a panel of judges who selected Transit App for its user-friendliness, departure alarms, offline mode and stop announcements, according to a statement posted to the MBTA’s website.
“I have it up right now. I just type in where I’m going and it gives you options about which line to take,” said Emma Guido, a freshman music industry student. “It gives you Uber price and time as well. I just click on the closest one and it tells me where to go.”
Uber is an affiliate partner of Transit App, Heller explained, and the company is working on partnerships with Lyft and other rideshare services.
Guido, who has been using Transit App for a year, was shown the app by a friend to help her get around the New York subway. Before she discovered the app, Guido didn’t take public transportation at all.
“I just wouldn’t do it,” she said. “I’d just take a cab.”
But commuting is common at Northeastern, where, according to the most recent numbers from the office of Off Campus Student Services, approximately 48 percent of undergraduate students live off campus. Predicting the arrival of the next train or bus can be the difference between getting to class on time or late.
Third-year communications major Robert Bond, who commutes to his job from campus, said that he has been late because of the train several times before.
“It happens,” Bond said. “Probably four or five times — not that much.”
Transit App joins a long line of other apps that commuters rely on to track the MBTA bus and train lines.
Sean Velazquez, a first-year law school student, takes the commuter rail from Leominster to North Station, then the T to Northeastern. He has been using the MBTA’s trip planner online “to alleviate any type of delays” en route, he said.
A crowdsourcing initiative that will allow users to share information about delays in transit, similar to the popular Waze app, will also soon make its way to Boston, Heller said. The feature is currently being tested in Pittsburgh.
“People through the app can report service problems, accidents on the road — anything they see that can affect their transit route,” Heller said. “It’s all about convenience.”