If you have to get somewhere quickly, do you opt for a ride-share, a bike-share, the T or just to hoof it?
Calculating how fast each of those options are will take a long time itself and involve opening multiple apps. One app aims to make it an easier process, though — Transit is the smartphone app that aggregates different transportation options, and it’s in 140 cities worldwide.
Transit, which has long been in Boston and is the official app of the MBTA, has always shown users the departure times for the public transportation options near them, as well as how long a trip will take depending on the travel mode. Now, Transit has a new feature: showing nearby dockless bike-share options.
Dockless bike-share companies, like LimeBike and Ofo, have been gaining momentum around the country. They differ from services like HubWay, which feature bikes stocked at certain stations around the city. Dockless bikes can be parked and locked anywhere, from bike racks to sidewalks, awaiting their next rider.
While you can see where the dockless bikes are by opening one of those company’s apps, the fact that you can also get that information in the Transit app makes it even easier to plan your route, said Jake Sion, chief operating officer of Transit. Transit has launched the service in Seattle and Washington, D.C., as well.
“With our original launches in D.C. and Seattle, the really big advantage there is that there are four or five dockless companies operating side by side. We wanted to say, if you’re going to take a dockless bike, instead of opening five apps to see which one is closest, we can put it all in one place,” Sion said.
“In the Boston area, there are fewer [dockless] services operating for now, but we imagine more will come,” he added. “Still, it’s that same decision factor: If a bike is near me, I’ll take it. If not, I’ll walk or hop on a bus. It’s about giving people the tools they need quickly, all in one place.”
In greater Boston, Transit shows the location of dockless bikes only from Ofo, a Beijing-based bike-share company.
LimeBike, which recently launched in the area, is supported by Transit in Washington, D.C., and Seattle, but not yet in greater Boston. Sion said that technical limitations with LimeBike mean their data can’t be included on the Transit map at the moment, but they hope to add it soon.
Transit doesn’t allow for booking a dockless bike through its app just yet (it does allow the service with docked bikes in some cities) but that’s another plan for the future. It does, however, provide information on how to use this new transit service, in case you’re unfamiliar with how dockless bikes work.
“If you see a bike on the street, how do you know what it’s for or if you can use it? We’ve added information on how to unlock [the dockless bikes], and those pages have been viewed tens of thousands of times,” Sion said. “It’s really about educating people about a new mobility option in their cities.”