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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Boston transit directions actually arrive (late, as usual)

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

Boston transit directions

Boston residents know that the T isn’t always the most reliable of public transit systems, so it’s no shocker that Apple’s transit directions are only now pulling into the station. Hometown paper The Boston Globe reported yesterday that the directions were actually live, and ran them through their paces.

I haven’t yet had a chance to give them a thorough investigation, but I did check a couple of routes that I commonly use and the planning information looked accurate enough. (At least I didn’t have any moments of wondering why they decided to go that way, a common enough occurrence with driving directions in these parts.)

What I’m not sure is whether Apple is using live information about bus and train locations or just relying instead on scheduled times. The latter isn’t a great option, because again, as Boston denizens know, what’s on the schedule and when the bus actually arrives can differ materially. The MBTA provides a pretty good API for transit information, so it would be a little surprising if Apple opted not to take advantage of it. But just comparing to a couple apps that do use the live information—Pocket MBTA and Citymapper—it looks like Apple’s projections are a bit more on the…optimistic side.

So although Apple Maps might be sufficient for route planning, I may still have to fall back to my standby apps when I’m sitting around and trying to figure out exactly when the next bus will come along, especially as the cold winter weather starts to blow in.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is now available for pre-order.]

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