One of the biggest challenges for many travelers is trying to navigate an unfamiliar city. And even in a city you know well but that is heavily congested with traffic, like my hometown of Los Angeles, getting around can be…trying!
For example, my wife and I were recently in Bangkok, Thailand, in October and we were heading to a dinner. We jumped in a taxi and about five minutes into the trip, we got stuck in nasty, snarled traffic. We literally didn’t move a foot in 30 minutes! It was so bad that it made me appreciate LA traffic. We ended up getting out and jumping on those dangerous motorcycle taxis (don’t tell my dad!).
Well, I wished then that Bangkok had a handy app like what’s been just launched for LA and soon Denver. It would have saved me a lot of time and frustration. The new Go LA app, powered by Xerox, integrates all the available methods of transportation around the city for residents and/or visitors.
What’s cool is that after registering (which takes just 20 seconds) and inputting your location and destination, the app quickly provides personalized travel suggestions that combine arbitrary modes of transportation, including personal (car, walk, bike), shared (ZipCar, bikeshare, etc.), ride hailing (Lyft is in but Uber isn’t), and public (bus, subway, train, etc.), as well as parking options (ParkWhiz). It computes the fastest, cheapest and most sustainable way to get to your destination. It also tells you the amount of calories you’ll burn for each.
To give you an idea of how it works, let’s pretend we are Cindy, a city resident who usually drives her car but is looking for an alternative way to get to and from work. The Go LA app, through which Cindy has specified her parameters for budget and timing, suggests the 7 am express, which has a stop two blocks from her workplace. After work, Cindy decides she’d like to get in a workout, so she chooses a trip that burns the most calories—the trip combines a bikeshare, which gets her almost home, and public transit, which takes her the last five minutes to her door.
Future versions of the Go LA app will integrate booking and payments, as well as encourage ridesharing. Let’s pretend we’re Cindy again, and this time we have tickets to a Dodger game. The carpool feature on her app notifies her that two of her friends also plan to go to the game and would like to share a car with her. The fee for the carshare is automatically split among the three subscribers. Cindy’s friend picks her up in the car and the app chooses a route based on how much they wish to pay for tolls and parking and how far they wish to walk to the stadium. They take the HOV express lane on the 110, as they have three people in the car. From the 110 exit, the navigation system directs them to open parking spaces that meet their $10 budget and their request to be no further than a ten-minute walk from the stadium.
I just downloaded the Go LA app and after playing around with it, I realiz that I didn’t know all my transportation options for the city I live in and for a route I take at least once a week. In just a couple of taps, I could see not only what is the fastest route from my house and the airport but I could also reserve a parking spot near LAX (just $13.10 a day). As a frequent traveler who’s constantly on the go, this app can help to save me both time and money.
The Go LA app launched at the end of January and you should try it the next time you’re in town or even if you live here. You’ll be surprised at your transportation options. You’ll learn methods of getting around that you didn’t know about or hadn’t considered before. I love that this app is available for LA, since this sprawling city can be difficult to navigate. I’m excited for its launch in Denver later this month, and hope that it becomes available for other cities soon. It will make a big difference to travelers and locals alike!