Best apps for navigating London amid rail strikes: From live travel to bike rental
Rail passengers are set to face disruption over the coming two weekends with two unions having announced plans for strike action.
Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (Aslef) members are set to walk out on Wednesday, May 31, and Saturday, June 3, the day of the FA Cup final. The rail strikes come after union chiefs failed to reach an agreement on pay and conditions with rail bosses last month.
The RMT union has also voted in favour of holding more strikes over the next six months, with the next set to be on Friday, June 2.
As well as Manchester City’s FA Cup final with Manchester United at Wembley, the strikes will affect services for other major London events such as Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour concert at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and England’s Lord’s cricket Test match against Ireland.
Here is all you need to know about the strikes. Now read on to find out the best apps you can download to stop them from spoiling your plans in London this summer.
Best live travel app: Citymapper
Citymapper is still the reigning champion of free real-time travel apps, despite its growing focus on monetisation. At its core, the app gives you a detailed breakdown of the quickest and cheapest route to your destination via public transport and alternatives such as cycling, walking, and ride-hailing. Power users can grab extra features, including personalised routes and rain warnings as part of the Citymapper club subscription, which costs £2.99 per month, or £19.99. This is available to Citymapper super-duper travel pass holders.
Citymapper on App Store and Google Play Store.
Alternatives: TFL Go, Google Maps.
Best map app: Google Maps
Like Citymapper, Google Maps is another everyday travel essential for commuters. Beyond navigation and public transport information for your chosen destination, the app can also show you nearby rental bikes and e-scooters, wheelchair-accessible routes, and detailed prices for select ride-hailing apps.
All the features are free and easy to use, plus you can use the app to find nearby attractions and points of interest, including supermarkets, restaurants, bars, and other shops.
Google Maps on App Store and Google Play Store.
Alternatives: Apple Maps
Best ride-hailing app: Uber
While there’s no shortage of ride-hailing apps available in London, Uber is still the most popular, with more than 3.5 million users in the capital alone. The app essentially lets you book a car ride for a fee, which fluctuates based on factors such as demand. You can choose from different types of rides, from regular UberX cars for up to four people, to more luxe and larger vehicles. You’ll then be provided with a nearby driver to take you to your destination. Uber says a ride in an UberX in London costs £1.16 per mile during off-peak hours and £1.37 per mile during peak times.
Still, it’s always worth having alternative ride-hailing apps available on your phone to compare prices and availability.
Uber onApp Storeand Google Play Store.
Alternatives: Bolt, Gett, Kabbee, Free Now, Ola.
Best bicycle hire app: Brompton Bike Hire
It may not be the best-known service in a cluttered field, but Brompton is the best bike-rental app because it is free for Londoners during train strikes. The company offers 48 hours of free bike rental using the code “STRIKE”. Rental normally costs £5 a day, with the promo granting you £10 of credit for use during the rail-strike period. There are around 20 bike docks in and around central London, typically near train stations.
Brompton Bike Hire on App Store and Google Play Store.
Alternatives: Santander Cycles, Lime, Dott, Tier.
Best road travel app: Waze
For car owners and renters, Google-owned Waze is a comprehensive, free road travel app that relies on a trove of real-time data provided by drivers. With roughly 140 million users, that means in theory it should give you more up-to-date information about traffic conditions, road closures, and hazards to help you to reach your destination quicker. Users can also provide information on speed traps and roadworks. In addition to your phone, you can get Waze on Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, to use directly from your car’s head unit.
Waze on App Store and Google Play Store.
Alternatives: TomTom AmiGO, Sygic, Google Maps.