Presselite is a prolific developer of iPhone apps that help you navigate the underground public transport systems of various major cities around the world. As this review was written, 17 were available on the UK App Store covering cities such as London, Paris and Beijing, all of which use the same interface and have very similar features.
The Washington Metro app covers the underground system of the US capital. If you’re a tourist visiting Washington DC, it’s worth pointing out that the city’s Metro doesn’t run to either Dulles International Airport, Baltimore Washington International Airport or certain areas of the city such as Georgetown. The journey planner on the network’s official website, www.wmata.com, covers the buses linking those areas, but this app doesn’t.
Nevertheless, if you’re unfamiliar with the city, then the app’s journey planner is a useful tool for finding your way around the metro system. You can find stations either by searching by name, tapping on the station’s name on the map or by having the app find your nearest station either by using GPS or typing in your current address. This even works when you type in certain famous landmarks, such as the White House. Oddly, when the map is showing a route for one station to another, you can’t zoom in and out.
Washington’s Metro network isn’t as prone to as many delays and closures as the London Underground, but they do happen. If you have an internet connection, the Service Advisories button allows you to check if there any delays or closures affecting the network, but, like Presselite’s London Tube app, the journey planner doesn’t take these closures into consideration when calculating a route. Disabled and other mobility impaired riders will be disappointed to find that the app doesn’t report lift or escalator closures and the bus replacement services laid on by the network as a result, which are reported on the network’s official website.
Paper maps of the Metro network can be hard to find at most stations, so the app’s built-in map is especially useful. Although Washington’s Metro isn’t quite as large as the London Underground, it’s large enough that the map often has to refresh itself if you scroll from one of the map to the other. Maps showing just a specific line are also available. The app doesn’t have any departure boards though, so you can’t check when the next train will be arriving before setting off for the station.
Despite its rough edges, this app is an inexpensive and useful tool that’s worth having if you’re visiting Washington DC.
Washington Metro 1.5 info
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Platform: iPhone/iPod touch
Website/Demo: Presslite website