Tip o’ the Week #213 – London travel with Windows Phone


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There are plenty apps that help travellers to and from the city of London, some of which I’ve mentioned previously in Tips gone by. Apologies somewhat to international readers as many of these will be of little use to you, unless you choose to visit the cradle of parliamentary democracy, in which case you should install them all before your trip.

Commuters in London have had to deal with industrial action on the Tube in recent months, and may face some more to come unless BoJo and BoCrow can kiss and make up. Install these apps now, so that next time you’re stuck in a queue or wedged on a train studiously not making eye contact with your fellow passengers, then you’ll have something to occupy yourself with. You could try singing the Amateur Transplants’ “London Underground” song to yourself: Warning – NSFW. Seriously, very sweary NSFW. About as sweary as you can get NSFW.

If you find yourself trying to traverse the capital on unfamiliar modes of transport (with other strange songs ringing in your mind), you could do worse than check out Bing Get Me There – it’s a multi-modal travel app which will plot routes on Tube, bus, overground rail & DLR, as well as link up the walking bits at either end too. The London Travel app is also very good – it shows you when the bus is due at your stop, among many other useful functions.

clip_image003Some other mainstream apps also feature great functionality for navigating the city – everyone should have Here Maps installed and benefit from being able to plan your journey on Shanks’s Pony even if you are stuck in a crawling underground train with no signal, since the maps are all stored offline.

Tap on a train or Tube station and the maps even show the real over-ground and underground layout (ie. where the tube lines lie under the streets – a revelation to new visitors to London is when they realise that sometimes it’s just a lot quicker to walk than to change lines on the underground, as the famous Tube Map isn’t anything like to-scale). Select a bus stop, and it’ll show you the numbered bus routes which that stop serves, and where they go to. Here Maps also gives you great turn-by-turn walking sat-nav so you can figure out exactly where to go when you get off the transit.

Ceri Morriss helpfully points out that as well as using the Bus Checker app, many routes – including the TVP courtesy bus – are also in Nokia’s excellent & free Here Transit phone app, which lets you plan a route by public transport not only in London, but other cities too. 740 of them around the world, apparently. Yes, other cities are available. Even the BBC knows this now.

Finally, there is a slew of similar train-opco-supplied apps, many off the same code base. For travellers going Reading-London, the most obvious is the clip_image005FGW app, which lets you see plan journeys, buy tickets, see the status of current trains (so you can see how late they are running), view departures from your favourite station (and as you can see how late the trains are running, you can give yourself another few minutes before rushing out of the house).

The coup-de-grâce though, is the ability to see which platform a given train is going to depart from; often, it’s displayed in the app before it shows on the board in the station, so you can be smugly luxuriating in your double seat before the hordes start descending from the main concourse.

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