Best transport and hailing apps for the United Kingdom

'Beast from the East' or not, finding transport can be a pain while travelling

Samuel Gibbs | Guardian
10:25 March 6, 2018
London Red Bus

With trains cancelled and roads blocked all over the UK, here are the best apps to survive your impossible journey.

Stuck in transport chaos because of "the beast from the east"? These are the best apps to help get you home via any travel means still up and operating.

Though this guide is specific to the United Kingdom, some of these apps (highlighted in green) are available in other countries inside and outside Europe. 

Roads and maps

Google Maps

Arguably the best all-rounder no matter where you are in the UK, Google Maps pulls together the most comprehensive database of transport options together with smart route planning, live traffic and public transport information. It is the one-stop-shop and an essential tool if you're trying to fight your way through the ice and snow.

Free on Android, iOS or on the web.


If road is your preferred method of transport, and Google Maps doesn't do it for you, then Google's other turn-by-turn navigation app, Waze, might be up your street. It provides live crowdsourced traffic information, route planning and community edited maps.

Free for Android and iOS.

Highways England Live Traffic Info

If you're looking for information on road closures on the main trunk and motorway network - operated by Highways England rather than local authorities - then there's an app for that. You can look up incidents on major roads and view conditions and traffic flow via a collection of CCTV cameras.

It's not quite as comprehensive as you might expect, and only covers English roads, but if you know the major road you're trying to get down and want to see if it's blocked, this app can help.

Free on Android, iOS and on the web.

AA Traffic news

An alternative to the Highways England service for finding road closures and traffic build-up is the AA's Traffic news service. The website provides a map of incidents; the same service is available in the AA's general app, with traffic news, local fuel stations and car park information.

Free on Android, iOS and on the web.

UK Rail

Public Transport


If you happen to be in London, Birmingham or Manchester, Citymapper is an essential free download. It has live transport information for rail, tube and bus, intelligent route planning, plenty of options to limit or mix-and-match methods of travel, and often comes up with alternatives Google Maps and others don't.

Free on Android, iOS or on the web.

UK Bus Checker

If your transport option of choice is the bus, then UK Bus Checker is the app to download timetables and find out if routes are still running and when the next bus is due. It's got scheduled departure times for all 300,000-odd bus stops around the UK and live information for over 40 towns and cities.

Free on Android and iOS.


If you don't want to download an app to check bus, rail, coach or ferry services, the Traveline website is a good place to get live and scheduled information. It's a service funded by a partnership of transport companies, government and passenger groups, and provides live bus times by stop or postcode via desktop or mobile site.

Traveline also offers next bus times via SMS. Sending the stop code found via the site to 84268 costs 25p a shot, unless in Wales, Lincolnshire or Plymouth, where the service is free.

Free on the web for desktop or mobile.

National Rail Enquiries

National Rail provides live departure and route information for trains across Britain, as well as a train route planner, making it one of the most comprehensive train-only options in the UK. At some stations it'll also provide platform information, which is handy if you're not familiar with the station.

You can also buy tickets, and find out information about the facilities available on a particular train or at the station. The app can lag behind others, but generally works OK.

Free on Android, iOS and the web.


The Trainline app is the easiest to use if you're trying to find and book the cheapest rail fares. It also includes some live information and route options, so is a good alternative to the National Rail Enquiries app.

Free on Android, iOS and the web.

Cab car UK

Hail a cab


If you're really stuck for transport options, with the trains out, the buses stopped and walking miles back home just isn't a real option in the freezing cold, a taxi might be your saviour.

Uber's app gives you live information on the location of local Uber drivers, which you can summon to pick you up with a few taps, as long as you've signed up for an account. It's only available in selected UK cities, including Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, London, Manchester, Merseyside, Nottingham, Sheffield, Stoke and York.

Be warned, when conditions get bad and lots of people resort to Uber, surge pricing normally comes into effect, which means even short journeys can cost a pretty penny.

Free on Android or iOS.


If an Uber isn't available, a black cab might be. MyTaxi is the largest of the cab apps, and used to be called Hailo before a merger. MyTaxi works in 50 cities across Europe, including London. It works a lot like Uber - find a local cab, jump in and pay via the app.

Unlike Uber, black cab drivers can ignore myTaxi requests, which means sometimes during peak periods it can be difficult to find an available taxi via the app, but it's worth a try.

Available for free on Android and iOS.



If you can't face downloading another app, and you're already on Twitter, then most of the train lines and local transport authorities have accounts that spit out live information. You'll also find that concerned commuters often take to Twitter to share travel advice, from packed trains to blocked lines, plus there's a certain catharsis in being able to complain directly to the transport operator.

Free on Android, iOS and the web with or without an account.

Source: (c) Guardian News & Media Ltd, 2018