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TfL has launched a new app – but it doesn’t include journey planning

James Manning

Big news, transport geeks. This morning TfL finally announced the release of its new app. It’s a long-awaited development, but with one big caveat: the app is for ticketing only, not planning your route from Alperton to Barkingside.

Called TfL Oyster, the app is available from today and looks pretty stylish. Download it and you’ll be able to use your phone to top up your Oyster card with credit and Travelcards. You can see where you’ve been and how much it’s cost you, and get notifications when your balance or Travelcard is about to run out. The plan is for upcoming versions of the app to add the ability to manage any contactless payment cards you use to travel around and let you top up your card on buses. Which is all very handy, but a bit disappointing for anyone who might have been expecting a TfL version of Citymapper.

So how come there’s no journey planner facility on the app, like there is on the TfL website? (There’s a link to the online version, but nothing built in.) The answer is, basically, because there doesn’t need to be.

This is because third-party apps are filling the void using TfL’s own data, as Shashi Verma, director of customer experience at TfL, told the TechRadar website back in 2015: ‘There are over 360 apps [more than 600 in 2017] using TfL data – Citymapper is probably the most commonly used. The impact of all of this is that rather than spending huge amounts of money on developing apps ourselves, we can spend a small amount of money on publishing all the data.’ We’re a bit sad there’ll never be a snazzy TfL Journey Planner app, but at least it’s saving London’s commuters a packet.

Download TfL Oyster for iOS or Android, or check out this snazzy interactive tube map for another way to plan your journeys.

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