Transport for London launches new travel app with focus on accessibility and socially-distant travel

When anyone comes to London, I always advise them to download Citymapper if they don’t have it already. The app uses open-sourced data from Transport for London to offer up to date information on how to get around the city, from which train carriage to stand in, to the time it takes to travel between platforms.

But it looks like that could all change as TfL is launching its own app today, named TfL Go. Launching today on iOS, the new app will help Londoners plan their journeys, offering real-time train schedules as well as information on how to travel at quieter times, such as outside peak hours, to maintain social distancing. For those who have invested in a new bike since lockdown, there will also be cycling options and walking routes too.

TfL designed and built the new TfL Go app in-house using the open data feeds that other developers use. However, this doesn’t mean support for this open data set will be withdrawn now the network has its own version. Instead, TfL says the online data portal is currently being updated to provide greater resilience and flexibility to developers to use the information in their own apps and products.

Speaking about the new app, TfL’s managing director of customers, communication and technology, Vernon Everitt, said: “This new app will help support our customers and London’s recovery from the pandemic as more people return to public transport. Our services are cleaner than ever and running at near-normal levels and we are offering a wide range of active travel options including extensive new walking and cycling facilities.

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“This app offers Londoners the information they need to get around easily, safely and reliably.”

Not only is there an emphasis on how to travel in a safe way on the network, but there is also a focus on accessibility in the app. There’s a step-free mode to access information on all stations with street-to-platform accessibility in order to open up more of the city to customers with accessibility needs. TfL says customers can use the iOS VoiceOver and Dynamic Type capabilities to use the app for hands-free access.

According to Transport for All CEO Kirsty Hoyle, TfL is also set to add information such as the width of gaps between platforms and trains and the status of lifts to the app. “The availability of accessible information is crucial for disabled Londoners, for whom navigating an often inaccessible city is often fraught with challenges.

“This will empower disabled people to make informed decisions about available travel options. We are hopeful that this app will deliver real-time information in a dynamic and user-friendly format that reduces barriers and increases independent travel.”

Travel figures are still low across the board with passengers asked to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing (AFP via Getty Images)

This improved accessibility data will also be added to the online data portal later this year for other developers to use. Also coming later this year is an Android app, which should be released in the autumn, along with information such as live bus times and the location of toilets around the network.

Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor for Transport said: “London’s transport network is central to life in our city and essential to our economic and social recovery from the pandemic. We are helping passengers to travel safely around the capital by introducing a wide range of hygiene measures across the network, restoring public transport services to near-normal levels and creating more space for walking and cycling.”

At the peak of the coronavirus pandemic a total of 38 tube stations were closed, however, only 13 are closed now with five set to return to use over the next two weeks. According to Citymapper, about 39 per cent of its London users are on the move again, compared to figures of around 8 or 9 per cent during April.

As other elements of the city start to open up, such as museums, and people start to return to offices, these numbers will begin to pick up.

TfL Go is available to download on iOS now


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