By: Editorial Team | Posted: May 17, 2016 | Updated: March 22, 2023
Being free to get from one place to another when you want is a very important ingredient of an independent life. We think there are some Apps that can make that easier and more convenient.
“Getting Around” is the first theme we are exploring in our “Useful Apps for Older Adults” initiative. It includes Driving Apps, Ride-hailing Apps, and Transportation Apps.
Our analyst team, and the Longevity Explorers, identified and tested out a handful of promising Apps related to getting around. These Apps fall into the categories of Getting a ride from others; Driving; and Buses & Public transport. They include Apps to help:
- summon a taxi or ride share at the drop of the hat;
- inform you how many minutes remain until the next bus arrives;
- give you clear directions how to drive from point A to B or how to walk from place C to place D;
- find the nearest (and or cheapest) gas station;
- find how to get around by public transport — which bus goes where, and the like.
Links to the actual Apps (so you can download them) are toward the bottom of the page.
View download links to these Apps
About the App Research
Longevity Explorers Discuss Getting Around Apps
In the series of discussions attached to this page (at right of page if you have a large screen, or at bottom if on small screen) you can actually listen as our Longevity Explorers are first introduced to these Getting Around Apps, and then over a series of face to face meetings spanning several months, report back on what they learned and how they liked the Apps.
Analyst Research on Getting Around Apps
In a pair of research articles, our colleague Jim Schrempp has looked at a series of Apps for getting a car to take you from Point A to B. These include both taxi summoning Apps and Ride sharing Apps.
In Jim’s first analysis, he identifies the App he think will be most useful for older adults (Uber), and compares it to competing Apps. He then prepared a series of really nice and simple video tutorials on how to download the Uber App and how to use it. Check out these two pieces of research at the links below.
The Apps: Driving, Ride-Hailing, & Transportation
All the Apps in the list below met our basic requirements. They worked well and at least one of our explorers was very enthusiastic about them, and uses them regularly. Think of them as “tools” that may or may not be right for you.
Ride Hailing Apps: Getting a ride from others
These Apps, (Uber, Lyft and Flywheel) attracted by far the most attention from our explorers. Many were interested, and many tried out some or several of these Apps. And Jim Schrempp has written a pair of research articles comparing these Apps, and a video tutorial on how to use Uber, his first pick (see above).
The Uber App summons a car that can take you from one place to another. You can choose between a limo-type service, or a private person’s car, or even share a car pool.
The Flywheel App attempts to replicate the nice simple Uber interface, but to call a cab instead of an Uber car.
Some of our explorers liked this because it called a taxi and not a private person’s car. But many of the explorers found fundamental flaws with this App. For example, it crashed frequently. And often it showed “no cabs available”, even in a city like San Francisco where there should be cabs, and where Uber seems always to show cars available.
The Lyft App is a competitor to Uber and does much the same thing.
The GasBuddy App helps you find the nearest gas station, as well as the cheapest gas in the vicinity.
Several of our Explorers tried out this App and thought it was useful. Although as one explorer said “Now that gas prices are so much lower, I need this App less than I used to”.
The SigAlert App shows you where the more and less congested roads are, and helps you plan the best route between two places, to minimize the chances you get stuck in traffic.
A handful of our Explorers tried this out, and said it worked pretty well. However for some reason this was not among the most popular Apps explorers tried out. It might be more useful for people with regular long commutes at set times of day perhaps.
The iExit App tells you what services are at the next freeway exit.
None of our Explorers rushed out to try this out, and the discussion made it clear this would be most useful on a multi-person roadtrip in which there was a passenger who would use this App while the driver kept their eye on the road.
The FreewayFinder App shows you where the nearest freeway entrance is, and how to get there. Many explorers felt they could use Google Maps or Apple Maps for the same purpose.
The Parkopedia App shows you where you can find parking nearby. Popular but only with a minority. Most of our explorers did not feel a burning need for help finding parking.
The PaybyPhone App lets you pay for a parking meter using your phone and this App. Popular but again with only a minority. One explorer asked why this was better than just putting a credit card into the meter and we never came up with a compelling answer to that. We would love your thoughts.
Transportation Apps: Buses & Public Transport
The 511 App helps you plan travel using public transportation. Many explorers use this regularly and find it very useful.
The NextBus App tells you when the next bus will be coming on a given route near your location. Also very popular among explorers who use the bus.
Download a Getting Around App now
To check out the actual Apps (eg to download them to your phone) you can follow the links below.
- Gas Buddy
- Freeway Finder
- 511 (no longer available)
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3 thoughts on “Driving, Ride-Hailing, & Transportation Apps”
Pay by Phone App
A reason that I like to use this App is that if I am occuppied or delayed from returning to my car, I can refresh or reload an additional fee from my phone without the neccessity or frustration of having to return to the car to reinsert a card or money.
I recognise that some parking spots are restricted to fixed maximum stays, but rarely if ever have I been booked for overstaying.
Parking App great when overseas
I recently found myself needing to park my hire car at a meter in Australia when on a visit down under from the USA. Sure enough I did not have enough coins. And the meter would not take any of my 3 US credit cards (even though they worked fine in restaurants and stores).
I was starting to get frustrated and it occured to me I could try out the “Pay by Phone” App described in this portfolio. I had not used it before, although I had downloaded it. It was the work of a minute or two to enter my crdit card into the App, enter the number on the parking meter, and lo and behold I had paid for my parking spot.
It was magic!
I am thinking about
I am thinking about subscribing to On-Star, which seems to offer a variety of services beyond those one would need only when in a car on a road trip. Any advice about On-Star or other similar providers? Thank you!