Bus Checker goes free for London's Tube strike

Waking up an hour early to beat the commuter hordes traveling to Central London is never a nice thing. Juggling between all your transport options during the TfL's strike affecting the Underground is a serious bad start of the day. To make things a bit easier, the developer FatAttitude is slashing the price of its London Bus Checker app so everyone can find a bus route that takes them home.

For those trying the app for the first time, Bus Checker is like a pocket version of the countdown signs you see hanging from the ceiling of posh bus stops — the key feature is telling you when your bus is arriving. Combining the location awareness of your smartphone and the live feeds taken directly from TfL, Bus Checker gives you crucial information on bus arrivals that can save you the disappointment of walking to a stop and realising your bus has just left.

Always keen to explore new utilities that make a London journey a little less complex, Bus Checker has been on my iPhone for years — my first review of the app is from 2011! Every update has brought small new features that can become absolute must-haves in your journey after spending some time with them. Seasoned users will recognise the value of the bus route database, favourite stops you keep using or the alerts to wake you up when you approach your destination.

Coinciding with the public release of iOS 7, the app introduced some interface changes keeping some of its signs of identity: those interactive bus stop posts and that pane mimicking the actual countdown signs (with their dot matrix font and everything) are just too quirky and fun. There are a couple of alignment issues and the placement of an ad on the new free version, but that's just nitpicking.

In recent months I have leaned a bit more towards Citymapper, which also features a section for live bus departures I find very useful when planning trips to places I'm not very familiar with. While I enjoy testing the advanced things you can do with it, I realise how it comes across as complex thing and probably bloated with features. Bus Checker's simple familiar interface and focus on bus travel makes it much more approachable. For those looking for journey alternatives during the Tube strike and any other Londoner the rest of the year, Bus Checker is still one of my preferred options in my Transport app folder.

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