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Car share or helmet hair? Here’s a quick way to pick the right transport for any trip

These apps help you decide how to get around town. Car share, public transport, ride or walk? Check time, cost, pollution, traffic, and weather for each.

Shannon Barker

You need to get someplace. Will you walk, skate, cycle, ride a motorbike, drive, or catch a taxi, train, ferry, bus, or tram?

You start to tally up the time, cost, and pollution of each option, multiply it by the chance of rain, add in a risk factor for traffic and divide the whole thing by the comfort of your shoes. Tired yet?

Take heart! Technology is here to help. Here are three awesome apps that will make you the best-informed traveller in town, so whether you live car free or are just looking for the best route - don't despair!

1: Tripgo

You’re at the pub in Bondi, and you need to get to dinner in Chinatown by 7pm.

Punch your start and end points into this nifty little app and you’ll see that:

  • a taxi will get you there fastest, but will set you back $24 and pump out 4kg of carbon dioxide;
  • driving will take 15 minutes longer, because you have to park a mile away; and
  • riding your bike to the train will cost you $3.60, take only three minutes longer, and emit only a whiff of CO2.

Bingo! You’re buckling up your bike helmet … and then your mum calls.

Remember that you promised to come to your Nana’s birthday dinner? Tonight? You need to get home to Kellyville Ridge, pronto. (It’s out the back of Blacktown).

A quick squiz at Tripgo tells you it will take a bit under an hour by car; nearly two hours by public transport, or 10.5 hours on foot.

You jump onto the Uber Carshare site, book a car share for the night, and off you go.

2: Weatherzone

The best-laid travel plans can be seriously stuffed up by a sudden downpour. You were planning pick your date up and stroll arm in arm down to a beachside restaurant? Sounds romantic. But aren’t those clouds looking a little menacing?

There are loads of weather apps, but the paid ($1.99) version of Weatherzone comes highly recommended by our own resident techspert, Dave. It gives you super detailed, beautifully graphed three-hourly forecasts, tailored to your location. You may never need to look up at the sky again.

A cautionary tale: Dave has been known to look at the Weatherzone app, see a storm approaching and jump on his bike anyway, thinking that he could outride it. He was WRONG.

3: Snarl traffic and Google Maps

The Snarl app made the Sydney Morning Herald’s list of the top 100 apps. It might just help you avoid getting stuck behind a broken-down bus and wishing you’d taken the train instead. Traffic incidents in Sydney are reported and mapped as they happen.

You’ve probably seen the traffic function on Google maps, which gives you colour-coded, real-time traffic information. But did you know how they get the data? By sharing.

The Google blog explains:
One of the coolest parts of this new Google Maps feature is that everyone can play a part in helping other motorists make smart decisions based on traffic information. How? By crowdsourcing. If you have Google Maps for mobile running on your phone, have GPS enabled on the device, and choose to enable My Location, your phone will send anonymous bits of data back to Google about how fast the device is moving. When we combine that anonymous speed data with that of other mobile devices travelling on the road ways, across thousands of phones moving across a city at any one time, we can get an even better picture of live traffic conditions, and we share it with everyone for free in the Google Maps traffic layer. The more people that participate the better – because traffic results get even more accurate for everybody.

When is car share the best option?

Using these apps, you will be able to make a well-informed choice about when you need to drive instead of riding, walking or taking public transport.

It’s midnight, pouring with rain, and you need to take your sick cat to the vet?
Join Uber Carshare if you haven’t already and get on your way!

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