The Secret Battle: Online Route Planners

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So maybe “Secret Battle” is a bit dramatic, but it is still somewhat telling. There is growing competition among online travel planners, especially those in New York City.

For years, New Yorkers had to figure out for themselves how to get from point A to point B. Now, there are a handful of online sources to help you out. They are sort of like MapQuest for public transportation…only you don’t end up in the middle of nowhere looking for a highway that doesn’t exist.

The most popular sites:

So which is the best?

HopStop [link] has been out for a little while now, and is probably the most popular of the sites at this point. The site has even managed to establish a partnership with AM New York. AMNY is one of the most popular free newspapers, available in just about every subway station in Manhattan. Hop Stop has set up operations in New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington DC. The offer subway and bus directions, but also have expanded into city guides, ratings, trips, and more. When getting directions, you can adjust your search to optimize for more walking, less walking, subways only, etc. depending on your personal preferences. The site is also very PDA friendly.

Public Routes [link] is similar to Hop Stop. They operate out of Connecticut, Dallas TX, New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia. The directions tool also allows you to narrow your search by transportation method. One cool goodie is there soon to debut Traffic Alert system. Then, you will be able to see what areas to avoid on your trip, so that should be a time saver. The other features are kinda weak compared to Hop Stop, but the mapping/directions are just about as good.

onNYTurf [link] isn’t really a directions site. As a matter of fact, it is an open source blog about all things NYC. More of an online community for bloggers and information. However, they do have a cool Google API that overlays the subway and PATH system on top of Google Maps. It is really sharp, clear, and detailed. You can click on any on of the stops for more information too. It is definately the clearest straight up subway map on the web. It’s even better than the MTA map! It is cool too because it is a noncommercial project, so you gotta love that.

MTA Trip Planner [link] is brand new. It was just released by the MTA. Not bad for a city job. Unfortunately, it does not incorporate the maps. Just gives directions via public transportation. But, it does seem to work pretty well. One cool feature is that you can plan your route based on handicap accessible stations. So if you need that kind of thing, this will help you plan your route. Also, it incorporates the MTA Service Advisories right into the directions.

Which service is the best? SUBWAYblogger’s vote is for HopStop for quick directions. onNYTurf gets honorable mention for the best subway map.

What do you think? Which do you prefer to use. Let us know in the comments.

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8 thoughts on “The Secret Battle: Online Route Planners

  1. The onNYTurf Subway Map also lets you do address lookup, and you can save them as favorites. You can also customize the text and add images to your favorite points on the map, for things like events. You can email direct links to your favorites too for easy sharing.

    The onNYTurf Subway Map also features entrance and exit details for all of Manhattan. We are working on adding those details for the rest of the city as well.

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  2. Actually I had the opposite experience from John T. I found the MTA site both more accurate for my particular trip and easier to use also. I think the advertisements get in the way of the interface on HopStop. The MTA site is cleaner.

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  3. A couple of other services to add to the mix:

    Trips123.com
    http://www.trips123.com
    Plan your trips in the Tri-State NY/NJ/CT Region. For example, you can plan a trip from an intersection in Norwalk, CT to Princeton University.

    Dadnab
    http://www.dadnab.com
    Plan your trips in the Tri-State NY/NJ/CT Region using SMS text messaging from your mobile phone. Unlike HopStop, Dadnab provides exact departure, transfer, and arrival times.

    Disclosure: I created and currently operate the Dadnab service.

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