In these times of rapidly increasing population and dependency on travel, we are all encouraged to use public transport, your bike and shanks’ pony when we can. If you want to travel and are prepared to have a more relaxed and eco-friendly journey there are a number of PC and Smartphone apps to guide you. Two are described below.
Transport Direct (transportdirect.info) is a website that gives you an environmentally friendly, sustainable way to travel without using your car! This includes walking, cycling and public transport – and even your car for an unsustainable way, possibly mixed with the other transport methods.
Transport Direct is operated by a consortium, led by Atos. The non-profit service is funded by the UK Department for Transport, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Government.
Its a veritable mine of information giving not only detailed directions but times and costs. If you are not in a desperate hurry to burn fossil fuel in your car, you can find better ways to travel using this website. It may take longer than the car outside the rush hours but whether you intend to travel in or outside the rush hours the journey will be more interesting, more relaxing and you will see more of the environment as you whistle through without a care and hint of stress.
Give the website your start and destination addresses (helped by intelligent assistance from the site) and it will give you 5 options for the journey including all the detail you require – walking directions, bus numbers including where to catch and where to get off, train times and stations to start and end with. And you can print out your journey plan using the Printer Friendly button.
The site links into walkit.com for the walking parts of the routes (see below).
I found the routes a little lacking in optimisation sometimes in that a quicker, shorter route was available. But, as a start for your journey plan the routes are well worth investigating.
As an example of how to use the A to B function try getting a route from KEW, say B16 8AB to Birmingham Airport:
- Click transportdirect.info to access the website.
- Select the Homepage tab if necessary.
- Enter B16 8AB in the From box.
- Enter Birmingham Airport in the To box.
- The time and date already present in the Leave section will do for our example.
- Untick the car box.
- Click on Go.
- The display is refreshed with a To box containing a drop down list.
- Select Birmingham International Airport Terminal 1 from the list.
- Click on Next.
After a short calculation delay a choice of 6 optional journeys is displayed with the top one activated (dot box populated on the right of Option 1).
The details of the chosen journey are shown below. You can click on the Map, Walk Directions and Departure symbols to get more detail.
Click on Tickets/Costs to get an idea of how much cheaper it is than a taxi or an Airport car park spot. :>)
As well as a PC website there is an app that can be dowloaded and will run on iPhone and iPad even though the maps are supposed to nead flash player software which is not supported on apple devices.
This is a small company which has a rolling programme of introductions of cities and towns. It aims to add new functionality and make other improvements on the basis of user feedback.
So, currently it will devise routes for walking in about 50 cities and towns including Birmingham.
It has many footpaths in its maps so, for instance, it can plot a route across Brindley Place and even through the ICC/Symphony Hall mall and along canal towpaths.
As well as showing you the route on a map (enlargeable), it gives a description of the route and also metrics on how long the walk is in distance and time, how many calories you will burn up and how much CO2 you will save by not using your car or public transport. It even gives you the changing height of the route so you can see if it is steep!
As well as A to B route planning, it also allows you to plot your own route for purposes such as a sponsored walk or sightseeing tour.
As an example of how to use the A to B function try getting a route from KEW, say B16 8AB to Millenium Point:
- Click walkit.com to access the website.
- Select the A to B tab at the top left.
- In the Walk in box use the drop down list to select Birmingham.
- Enter B16 8AB in the from box.
- Enter Millennium Point in the to box.
- Click on Go.
- The display is refreshed with a to box containing a drop down list.
- Select Millennium Point from the list.
- Click on Go.
A map containing the route is displayed with the metrics above it and a description to the left and below it a plot of the changing height above sea level along the route.
As usual with digital maps you can change the scale of the map using the + and – buttons, and pan using the arrow buttons are click and drag the map.
Note: As well as a PC website there are walkit.com apps that can be downloaded to iPhone/iPad and Android devices.
Try it! It’s fun!