For me, one of the top five worst things in the world is running down the stairs at Park Street only to see my Red Line train pulling away from the station. Anger, rage and anxiety are common feelings when that happens. But really, there’s no need for that. Despite how much you hate it, the MBTA is amazing for one thing — its real-time API train and bus data is open to the public. For you, that means smartypants developers have turn that info into over 40 apps to alert you to when your ride is coming. We’ve tested them and vetted the best of the best, so without further ado, here are six of our favorite MBTA apps.
Transit Spy –$3.99 – Founded by former Boston resident Dominic Owen, TransitSpy is an iPhone, Android and BlackBerry app that uses real-time MBTA bus data to help you determine when your next bus is coming. The sleek interface is incredibly user-friendly: simply click on a route, set your stop and a countdown appears telling you when the next bus will arrive at your stop. You can also view the route on a live map, which shows both stops and moving buses, and can be adjusted from a road map to an imagery map or topographic map.
Catch the Bus & Catch the T – $0.99 each – Brought to you by local developer Jared Egan, Catch the Bus/Catch the T provides GPS based, real time prediction data that lets riders know when their bus and trains will actually be at their stop. It’s also, in my opinion, one of the easiest T apps to use; there are no frills and it’s reliable.
Nextime – $2.99 – What’s great about Nextime is the “TransitTrack” feature. You can enable push notifications from the app, which alert you when you should leave to catch the bus – even customizing it on how long it will take you to get to the stop based on your walking speed and using a color-coded system to tell you what pace you need to reach in order to make the bus!
Nexmap – $1.99 – You know those spider maps of the T are confusing, with all the bus, rail and train routes combined in overwhelming fashion with inclusion of things like street intersections, causing your brain to explode from transit overload. Nexmap eases that pain for you: By clicking on any particular stop or area, the map will display the buses, subway and commuter rail lines that make stops there.
NextTrain T Tracker – $0.99 – Augmented reality meets the MBTA. On NextTrain T Tracker, all you have to do is open the app, hold the camera upright, and turn to see where MBTA train stations are located around you. Oh, and feel pretty badass about it, too.
OpenMBTA – Free – This is hands-down the best free MBTA app on the market. Developed by Daniel Choi, an independent software developer in Cambridge, OpenMBTA gives you bus, commuter rail, subway, and boat information, both schedules and real-time updates. You have the option to view in color-coded maps or the much easier-to-read table format.
In addition to these six apps, the MBTA recently launched the capability for commuters to receive real-time bus data via text message, as well as a complete overhaul of its mobile website to ensure better bus and train tracking. Now you have no excuse to ever miss your ride again!