I was never good at instructions. Some call it stupid, I prefer to call it a geographical challenge. Either way, I’m the eternal butt of family jokes, as I’m constantly lost within a half mile of my home. If I had been born a decade earlier, I could easily have become one of those people who end up 1000 miles from where they supposedly were, after blindly following a SatNav with a typographical error at the destination.
All these years I had developed an unhealthy dependence on Google Maps, as I relied too much on the app to take me literally everywhere. That is, until I moved to London in February 2020 and fell in love with a whole new transport mapping application, which led to the downsizing of my relationship with Google Maps.
It was my brother who introduced me to Citymapper after I moved to London, telling me I “should” get it. Of course, I ignored his advice for as long as possible – until one day I found myself trying to navigate a particularly fancy trip from East to South London, which included two subways and at least one bus ride. So I gave and downloaded Citymapper.
READ MORE: Witnesses helped by “screaming” a shooting victim in the park who would “die” if they had not found him
I would not quote John Green’s teen romance “A Fault In Our Stars” lightly, but I really fell in love with the Citymapper the way you sleep: “Slowly, then at the same time”. At first I would only enter the app to navigate my most complicated trips to London. I liked the way it always gave me so many different route options and the exact cost of each one.
I soon used Citymapper for all my travels, even though I already knew how, making excuses to spend time with him. I liked the way it would combine all the modes of transport in London – including the darkest ones such as ferries and scooters – to give you the best possible route and travel time. I liked the way the GO function gave me step by step instructions to walk between them. It made me feel like I was watching.
These days I do not spend a single day without using the application. If I stop at a bus stop, Citymapper’s waiting times will tell me exactly when the next bus I want is scheduled, by the minute – plus ETA for the next many buses, in case I decide to go to Tesco’s. Of course, you can save your favorite places to tell on the map to “bring me home” if you are ever too drunk to enter your own address.
Through some sort of magic in the city, the app knows exactly what is happening across London’s transport network at any given time, staying up to date with any changes to the metro line, pre-planned or unexpected. You can even customize this feature to receive automatic alerts when there is an interruption on your favorite subway, train, bus or tram line. The app does not lose any tricks – it even tells you what is the best way out of any particular subway station, so you are on the right side of the road to get to your destination.
Other online reviews of the app suggest that it has changed lives for others. This is my personal favorite: “It has become a strange and probably sad fact of my life that waiting and receiving Citymapper updates has surpassed Christmas and birthdays with anticipation and stimulus.”
The best part of the app is the cost function, which must have saved me a small fortune since I moved here. My roommate and I recently discussed how lost we feel when we visit other cities and can not use this app (although some other cities have it, such as Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Dublin and some overseas cities, such as New York and New York and Barcelona).
Overall, I do not claim this out of many things – but Citymapper has really changed my life. I really like crouching over friends’s shoulders as they look in the direction, then sighing dramatically if I see them using anything other than Citymapper and then sharing the secret with them. I’m not sure how I would have circulated in London without it. Probably about twice as slow, and at twice the price.
To receive stories and breaking news from all over London and the UK tailored to your preferences, sign up for one of our custom newsletters here.