MTA App Quest: The Search for a Better Commute Is On

Updated: February 2, 2012 at 02:50 PM

UPDATE: The winners of the MTA APPQuest contest were announced on Feb. 2. The grand prize went to Embark NYC, a comprehensive tool allowing users to search subway schedules and maps and plan trips. The second prize went to Free NYC Subway Locator, which allows straphangers to locate the nearest subway station. Third prize went to Notify Me NYC, an app that alerts users if their train is experiencing service problems.

Are you one of the MTA’s 8.5 million daily riders? The Authority recently challenged software developers to come up with an app to improve New Yorkers’ transit experience and now the public has until Jan. 11 to vote on the submissions.

Below are our top picks for apps we think have the potential to make transportation easier, livelier, brainier — or just prettier. Vote for your favorite today at MTA APPQuest.

Commuter Heaven: Must Have Apps

Brooklyn or Penn


The Brooklyn or Penn App determines when and where the train you need
leaves next. Video courtesy of the MTA.

Decisions, decisions — this app makes them for you! The Brooklyn or Penn app will decide whether you should head to Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal or Manhattan’s Penn Station to catch the Long Island Rail Road train that will get you home in the shortest amount of time.

If you are in need of a map, the MTA Information app has them all perfectly folded up inside. Image courtesy of MTA.

MTA Information

This app offers quick access to maps of the subways, Long Island Railroad, Metro-North, bridges and tunnels and the Staten Island Railway. If you’re online, you can access the train schedules and if another subway rider has posted anything on the message board about their travel experience, you will be privy to those comments. Even the escalator outages are posted on this app! Sorry iPhone users, this app is only offered on the Windows Phone 7 phones.

Directionally Challenged?

NYC Station Finder


The NYC Station Finder app finds the subway stops that are closest to you. Photo courtesy of MTA.

Too lost or confused to figure out your own whereabouts? This app allows you to simply hold up your iPhone and it will show you the nearest subway stations. The app scans your location and then nearby subway stations appear on the screen. There’s even an offline option for finding transit routes and schedules while you’re underground.

The Don't Be Late App reminds you what time your train leaves. Photo by David Mahfouda.

Don’t Be Late

Always late for very important dates? The Don’t Be Late app was made with you in mind. Log in with your Google Calendar and Foursquare and the app will notify you with transit directions 10 minutes before you need to leave for an event listed in your calendar. It’s also a good excuse to keep that monthly calendar updated.

At a Mobility Disadvantage?

The Dead Escalators app tells you where the elevators and escalators are in and around subway stations. Photo courtesy of the MTA.

Dead Escalators

Broken leg? Strollers? Wheelchair? Dead Escalators has got you covered when it comes to navigating subway stations using escalators and elevators. When the app is activated, it will also let you know which elevators or escalators are not working and will even tell you why they aren’t working.

Metro-Trailblazer Apps



CityMaps will show you where to go and what to do when you get off the subway. Video courtesy of MTA.

All dressed up with nowhere to go? shows you what’s happening around the subway stop you’re exiting, whether it’s a happy hour around the corner, a movie beginning in 15 minutes or reservations at the bistro down the street. All you have to do is get off the subway and City Maps has got the rest of your evening covered.

The History Bus app tells you the history of the monuments and buildings in Lower Manhattan. Photo courtesy of MTA.

History Bus

Whether you’re a history buff or just plain curious, this app will teach you a history lesson during your bus ride. From the history of old alley ways to art galleries, from fountains to firehouses, the History Bus will give you the background of the people and places of Lower Manhattan — and you don’t need to be on a double-decker tour bus.

Art by Subway NYC app shows which subway stations have art. Photo by Matthew Vincent.

Art by Subway NYC

If art is constantly in your heart, download this app for a pocket guide to discovering commissioned artwork inside the New York City Subway system. The app uses data provided by the MTA paired with images of the station art photographed by the developer.

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