MASS TRANSIT

Want to get around Hong Kong in the fastest time possible? Transport app Citymapper launches in city

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 August, 2015, 1:09pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 August, 2015, 12:12pm

Transport app Citymapper launched in Hong Kong on Monday night, one-upping Google Maps by offering ways to navigate the city’s public transport in the fastest time possible with the benefit of real-time updates.

The navigation app for Android and iOS helps determine the best route by integrating data from public transport providers in order to provide real-time information for each leg of the journey.

A new feature called Go behaves like a co-pilot, providing step-by-step navigation and pushing out useful alerts to guide users to their destination.

“It tells you when your bus will arrive as you’re nearing the bus stop, or pushes out notifications that tell you that you should get off,” Omid Ashtari, general manager of Citymapper, told the South China Morning Post

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Users can share their estimated time of arrival with friends via a digital map, and recipients are able to track their progress.

Commuters can also get weather updates and see how many calories they will burn if they decide to walk or cycle to their destination using the app, which already operates in 28 cities including London and Paris. It launched in Singapore in May. Hong Kong is the second city it covers in Asia.

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““Hong Kong is a city with tech savvy people, a high smartphone penetration rate and a lot of early adopters,” said Ashtari.

“We have had to do a lot of critical, bespoke work for the city, because there are so many different modes of transport, from the MTR, the minibuses and the different ferries.”

While Citymapper usually integrates open-source data from transport authorities, it had to approach the different transport companies in Hong Kong to obtain data, as many parts of the transit system are privately owned.

“We have very different types of data sources from different companies, and we need to look into it to see what needs to be improved and fixed, so that it is accurate,” said Gene Soo, who consults for Citymapper.

In April last year, Citymapper raised US$10 million in funding. It said it planned to use the funds for its international expansion.

But it faces competition from another navigation app, Israel-based Moovit.

Valued at around S$450 million, Moovit provides real-time comprehensive information for commuters in 55 countries and 600 cities. 

The company launched the app in Hong Kong in March. It also provides coverage for cities in Malaysia, South Korea and China.