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Planning routes and navigating public transportation presents certain challenges to individuals with disabilities.  Many transit maps and schedules are not readily available in accessible formats.  Also, many forms of cognitive disabilities can make planning routes and coordinating connections problematic.  Therefore, mobile devices can be an excellent solution.

Google has designed a mobile version of Google Maps, which is available from the web browser of nearly any smart phone.  In addition to detailed street maps, Google Maps can also generate directions based on public transportation information. Walking directions are also available, though these have proven spotty from anecdotal testing.

HopStop is a free app for both the Android and iOS platforms.  It’s a far more powerful tool for planning your next route.  Several options are provided for selecting which forms of transportation you want to use–for example, you may not want to include buses and simply rely on train or subway transit.  The walking directions from Hopstop seem to be far more accurate than those of Google Maps even though they are produced from the same data source.  One very useful option allows a user to determine how much walking should be included in the route planning.  A somewhat more circuitous bus route could dramatically reduce travel on foot.  Alternatively, by walking a couple of extra blocks, routes with fewer connections or shorter times can be

HopStop is  helpful when changing a trip mid-route.  Many routes are presented.  Once selected, a route can be saved, changed or reversed for the return trip. Interim stops and re-routing options are very handy if a particular route is experiencing delays or if a stop is unavailable.  Especially  worth noting are wheelchair accessible and stroller-friendly routes.

HopStop does not provide turn-by-turn spoken directions nor does it track your location within a route. A combination of apps, some for route planning, some for exploring the immediate surroundings and others for real time directions may prove necessary for meeting all of your mobile navigation needs.

Google Maps is bundled with the Google apps suite, which is available on the Android Marketplace and the iOS App Store.  HopStop is similarly available and can also be found at hopstop.com.

Review by Joel Zimba, MDTAP Special Projects Coordinator

2 Responses to “Hopstop review, 1/30/2012”

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