Go LA (Free) by Xerox Corporation is a great companion app for Los Angelenos and visitors alike. If you’ve ever visited the city, then you will know that traversing the area to get to where you need can be rather daunting for newcomers and perhaps a bit tedious for residents. The Go LA app aims to simplify all of that, providing you with seamless travel planning and a simple way to get around town.
I have lived in the Los Angeles County all my life, and I know that while we don’t have the best public transportation system, it’s still pretty easy to navigate your way around with the current system, given that you know what you’re doing. Personally, I like to drive everywhere I go because of convenience, but when you’ve seen what a nightmare LA traffic is at times, especially during rush hour, well, you’d best avoid it as much as you can. This is why I prefer taking the trains when I do go on some downtown adventure during the weekends, but sometimes that isn’t the most effective way to go about things. So when I heard that the city of Los Angeles was releasing a new app to help people out with traveling around the city, I had to give it a try.
The Go LA app has a fairly simple and barebones design that blends in rather well with the modern aesthetics of iOS. It really isn’t anything fancy in terms of iOS apps, but this will definitely get the job done. The white used in the app provides nice contrast the varying colors that each different type of transportation offer, which is visually appealing. And while the app can feel a bit cluttered due to all of the options of travel it provides you, it is organized well so it’s easy to pick just what you need for the moment. If you make a trip frequently, the Go LA app allows you to save your favorites for quick access later. Overall, I think the developers have done a pretty good job of creating a slick app for Los Angeles travelers, both old and new.
The first thing that pops up when you launch Go LA is a signup/login screen. While signing up for an account is easy (you can sign up with your email or just use Facebook Connect), there is an option to skip signup or login entirely if you don’t feel like having yet another account to worry about. Having the option to use the app without a login is pretty nice, and something that more apps need to consider for their users. Having an account will only be important for the Profile features, which are not yet functioning in the app, but will be in the future. Go LA allows you to save your favorite trips without an account, so you don’t have to worry about losing those, since it appears they’re saved locally on your device. You’ll also select your preferred transportation methods in the setup, which include public transport, taxi, Flitways, Lyft, Car, Zipcar, motorbike, and bicycle. If you have suggestions on modes of transportation to add, select “Other Transport” and send your idea off to them.
When you get in Go LA, the first thing you’ll be in is the “Ride Now” section. From here, you can plan your trip to anywhere in most of Los Angeles County, all of Orange County, and some parts of Riverside County, San Bernardino County, and Venture County. It’s important to note that the app does not cover anywhere north of the Los Angeles National Forest (i.e., Palmdale, Lancaster, or Gorman), Catalina Island, and Santa Clemente Island. Still, even with these restrictions, the Go LA app covers a large part of Southern California, so it should still be helpful in planning most of your trips.
To plan an excursion, just select where you’d like to start from, including Current Location, and then type in the destination you want. The results show up in real-time and are powered by Google, so everything is fairly accurate. You can also select the time you want to leave or arrive by, and then route the trip. The trip results are organized into three sections: Sooner, Cheaper, and Greener. If you want to get there fast, then obviously you pick Sooner. When you want to be a bit conservative with your wallet, go Cheaper. And if you don’t mind a bit of exercise included in your trip, then go Greener.
As you view the trips the app gives you, it’s easy to see how long each one will take, as well as what the trip consists of. You’ll see icons representing the different modes of transport that you’ll be taking on the trip, and how long each component will be. The app also tells you how much each trip will cost (or approximations when it comes to things like Lyft), as well as how many calories you’ll burn on your walk or bike. There are direct links to book a ride through the integrated services, parking can also be booked through ParkWhiz if available, and the app can launch Apple Maps to get you directions for driving or walking. There are buttons at the top to switch the start and end points, and you can tap on the heart to add it to your Favorite Trips.
The app’s settings, which can be accessed through the side panel (tap on the hamburger button in the top left corner), let you sign in or out of your account, change distance units, choose transport methods, and select the default sorting view. From here, you can also set your walking speed, max walk time, minimum transfer time, and how much 10 minutes is worth to you. When these factors are taken into account, it will change what results you get when planning your outings.
The “My Profile” section is currently under development, but it will give users nice views of how much they saved in terms of cost, time, mode, fitness, and personal goals.
I’ve checked out Go LA over the weekend, and so far I’m finding the app to be a rather useful tool as I go about my daily LA adventures. It is simplistic, fast and responsive, and the detailed results are nice to look at (it’s always interesting to see how many calories you’ll burn on your way to the restaurant or elsewhere). The only issue I have with the app is that it seems to like giving me more bus routes than Metro trains, as I’m near a train station but the app does include trains in my trips unless I am already at the train station. It’s a bit annoying, and I would like to see more nearby trains included when planning out a route, because that’s my preferred method of transport when going out during the day. Maybe even splitting up “Public Transport” to separate Bus or Train options would help too.
Still, Go LA is a pretty nice app for anyone who lives in Southern California or is planning on visiting the City of Angels. It’s a great tool to help you get around where you need to go, and I recommend having it on your device. You can get Go LA for your iPhone for free on the App Store