If you’ve traveled to a new city, then you are probably familiar with the feeling of looking at an alien transit map and wondering who concocted such a thing and how on earth do you use it? The AllSubway app is a good step forward to helping you get around a new city without looking lost.
The app is pretty simple, it’s a list of the subway or light rail maps of some of the major cities in the world. The current version includes more than 45 cities, including New York, Paris and Tokyo. As I said, it is simple, just the transit maps for those cities, but it is extremely powerful. One odd note, in the company’s description it lists both current and future transit maps. Not all maps listed are in the current version.
Rather than depending on a travel book or map, both of which flag you instantly as a lost tourist, you can simply pull out your phone. The application is indexed and allows the user to zoom in and out and displays either as portrait or landscape view. While using the app you will look more like an urban pro than a traveling newbie.
There are some downsides to this app. The first is whether or not you really want to pull out your phone or similar device to check a map. In some cities this isn’t a problem and in fact will help you fit in. Singapore, Washington and London, are a few cities where it isn’t a problem. However, in places like Athens and Mexico City, where metro pickpocketing is the unofficial national sport, the last thing I want to do is play on my smart phone while trying to figure out where I’m going. In situations like these, the app is still useful as you can study it in advance and at least have some familiarity with the system before your first attempt at using it
Another drawback is the previously mentioned simplicity; the app only includes transit system maps. There are other apps that go a little further and include point to point directions using public transportation. However, I’m not sure that wandering around a new city with your iPhone pointing the way is the safest plan of action either.
There are also some notable cities NOT included in the current version, such as Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro and Vancouver. However, the company assures users that these cities will be in future versions.
Overall, AllSubway is a good travel investment. I believe that its simplicity is actually its greatest strength. If you use this inexpensive and useful application, you will be able to use more of your time touring the city rather than trying to decode the transit map. Not bad for a buck!