Keep out of the Olympics' way, earn a haircut from TfL app
Coupons to make Londoners ditch the train for trainers
In the race to get London's road and tube network ready for the Olympics, Transport for London has endorsed a new app called re:route: a map app with reward vouchers.
The idea is that Re:Route (on iTunes here) plans your journeys in the capital and then rewards you for taking low-carbon, calorie-burning and overburdened-public-transport-avoiding route options by dishing out vouchers.
The rewards include coupons for haircuts and spa days. Made by Groupon-for-do-gooders startup Recyclebank, the app uses TfL data and has been officially endorsed by TfL.
But £5 off M&S vouchers aside, the app has a few limitations and some teething problems that make it less useful than it could be.
Routes, but no route-planning
It's a great idea for a transport app to draw in all forms of transport, but critically for a map app, it doesn't give specific routes. It will show you the start and end points of, say, a cycle journey – but not the bits in between. A spokesperson from Recyclebank explained that it's just not a route-planning app.
The app intentionally doesn't ask for your location either, a decision which is of course better for privacy, but worse for finding your way around – though there's always Google Maps.
Re:Route sucks in travel recommendations from the Transport for London API, using the same data that TFL's web-based journey planner does. However, it doesn't yet include buses – although that data will be included before the Olympics. Until it does, some of the routes don't seem to make much sense.
While the app does get a bit creative, some of the routes are kind of weird: for example, one "Burn Calories" route from Soho to south London suggested getting on the tube for one single stop and then getting on a bike... instead of just getting on a bike.
An additional teething problem was that the app seemed to have some trouble logging short journeys. Despite jabbing the screen for all 10 minutes of a short low-carbon journey (a walk to the shops), the app failed to register where I was, where I was going, or when I arrived. Hitting Start Route had no discernible impact. We've been assured that this is a problem with short journeys and is something that the devs are looking into.
A few updates and the addition of bus info could probably fix most of these things. But currently it's a bit of a white elephant of a piece of software, though worth playing around with if you have a thing for vouchers and don't mind meandering about London, logging your trips, to clock up goodie points.
Re:Route will be available on Android just before the Olympics too. ®
Erm, forgive my squirrelly ignorance, but surely a route is more than just the beginning and end points? Aren't those what you start with, and the route is the bit inbetween?
I just love how TfL's primary response to the Olympics screwing over the capital seems to be "just walk." They wrap it up in the usual help-us-out/save-the-planet/this-is-doing-you-a-favour bullshit, but at the end of the day all this massive ad campaign says to me is: "we really fucked up with transport for this massive event half of you don't want, so we're asking all the people that paid for our network to not use it."
I'm sure most people who come to the UK for the Olympics will spend the term of their visit stuck just outside Redhill due to cable theft
I'm so glad!
Yes, I am really glad that I don't need to go anywhere near London for these weeks. I don't need any patronising platitudes in exchange for my not using London roads, and I'd be pretty offended if I did. I have little interest in these games and, if recent history is anything to go by, we will regret our offer to host them in so many ways.