A Guide to Develop a Real-time Public Transport App

Updated on Dec 18th, 2023

A Guide to Develop a Real-time Public Transport App

There are numerous times when we have been extremely excited about a journey, whether it’s a long one or a short one. The essential part in any journey is played by the transportation system of your city or country. Tracking the traffic or getting real-time information about the public transports available in your city adds a zing to the journey. 

public transport app tells you about the various modes of transport available, their routes, timings, and sometimes cost related to a certain distance. Just like your keys, wallet, and phone, this is an application that you must possess to ease your daily commute. 

These apps are engineered to perfection and help you get the real-time location of your train, buses, or trams/subway. Apart from this, you can get the actual fare from one point to another and get the time duration of the journey. These features are designed to help users to save and manage time in their daily hustle. 

As per the statistics, building a public transportation app is way much more profitable than you think. These are generating millions in revenues and have been downloaded millions of times. 

Kinds of Public Transport App    

There are three major types of public transport apps that are in service. These three types include transport provider’s apps, general-purpose transit apps, and hop-on-hop-off tours apps. 

  • Transport Provider Apps are developed as per different transport agencies. These apps generally offer essential features to users that are related to a particular company’s transportation, such as search for routes, information for trip planning, and an online ticket purchasing system. These apps only deliver information related to a specific company and have limited operating routes. These transport providers work on a ticket reservation system as they issue tickets related to a particular ride. 
  • General-purpose transit apps come in the category of urban navigation applications. They have collaborations with various transport agencies and deliver information related to routes, ticket cost, time duration, live updates, and ticket booking system. These types of apps serve on a wide scale and operate in more than a hundred cities or countries. You will find that these kinds of apps are on the top as far as the public transit apps are concerned. They serve more than 250 million people in over 3000+ cities located in multiple countries. Moovit is one such app that is the most popular as of 2019. 
  • Hop-on hop-off tour apps have a straightforward operating model. These apps are developed to ease the sightseeing bus tours within a city or a country. Each tour is designed with multiple stops that are usually famous landmarks; one route covers one or several places of interest or tourist places. A passenger or a tourist can explore any famous landmark at their own pace. They can deboard the bus at any of the mentioned stops on the route and board again on another bus to get to the next famous landmark. These apps are designed to deliver information to the customers, such as detailed routes, stops, offline city maps, schedules, audio guides, live location of vehicles, etc.

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Mandatory Features of a Public Transport App  

Every public transit application has some features that decide its popularity and revenue generation. Users judge an application based on the quality and number of features a transit app offers ease of access. However, several features are mandatory to have in any real-time transit app available in the market.  

1. GPS Tracking   

Integrating GPS tracking is one of the mandatory features that you should have in your public transport app. The public transportation system is a very unreliable source of transportation in terms of time management. This feature will allow users to track the exact location of their rides, such as trains and buses, and plan accordingly. Commuters can stay updated with real-time location updates by using the GPS tracking function in your transit app. 

Planning logistics can sometimes be challenging, and your app should make this process easy by delivering live user updates of the nearest available mode of transport. 

2. Maps    

Transportation apps are not only for the residents of a particular city or country. People often come to a city for the sole purpose of a vacation, and being a stranger, they are always hesitant in asking for directions to the bus or train stations. Your app should deliver a solution to their problem by integrating a geolocation map into your transit application. A successful transit app is always ready to serve its users regardless of location and time. The geolocation map should be connected with the specific services of transportation that are available in that particular city. 

Convenience is the key to popularity and high revenue generation in the transit apps business. An ideal transportation app should deliver live navigation tips to commuters to resolve their travel issues. 

3. Offline Mode    

Traveling to a new town, city, or country is always met by a generic problem- internet connectivity. There are times when you are in a new city or country, and you are out of connection range; features like offline mode help users to find their way to the desired destination. This feature includes fixed routes, stations, and popular locations. While developing your public transit app, make sure to add this feature. Users should have the option to download the map of a new location that can be used in offline mode and ease their journey planning from destination A to destination B. 

4. Push Notifications   

Push notifications are used to inform your users about several updates to the app. In this case, this feature is used to notify the users about any upcoming situations like traffic jams, emergencies or unexpected interruptions, new construction, delays, etc. These real-time updates help users in planning their journeys ahead. 

These updates can be related to change in the schedule of the mode of transport selected by the user. Using this feature will serve you two significant purposes; users can be updated about their journey in real-time. You can revive a dormant user that has stopped using the app as these push notifications act as a brand reminder that results in indirect marketing. 

5. Ride History   

Users should be able to find their previous traveled locations and the mode of transport chosen during the journey. This feature helps the users in analyzing the routes that cost them more or less money and choose the best routes based on the data of their ride history. 

6. Ticket Booking  

Today, the users are always in a hurry, and they don’t prefer to stand in a queue to book a ticket to a particular destination. Your transit app should have inbuilt ticket booking features that allow users to book their tickets to different locations by using digital payment methods. Along with all other features, online ticketing will be a cherry on top where users can book, purchase, and validate tickets with their smartphones. 

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Building a Public Transport App   

Now you have a basic knowledge about the mandatory features to be used in your transit app. The next level is initiating the relevant development processes. To achieve the standard existing in the industry, you should implement the best-developing strategies.  

1. Concept   

To transform an idea into reality, you should identify the challenges of this hyper-competitive market. Carry out deep market research and analyze your competitors with a maximum number of users, target audience, and their expectations from a proficient public transit app, market share, and the growth perspective. These things will help you create the basic architecture of the app. 

2. Analysis   

Once you have all the data, brainstorm the ideas based on the result of your research. List down the features that you want in your app. You can either hire a business analysis team or use the available resources to develop SRS, resonating wire-frames, etc. When you reach the end of the analysis process, you will have a business model ready to implement. 

3. Design   

The design of your transit app should be extraordinarily different and compelling. Design your app in a way that it offers the best graphics and a rich navigation experience to the users. The more attractive teh design will be, the more users it will encourage to join. Remember simplicity is the key; users should be able to navigate easily through your app. 

4. Development   

The development process is the building block step of your app. This process will determine all the coding and programming strategies you want to implement in your extraordinary app. Choose the platform that offers the most feasibility in terms of operation. You can hire a mobile app development agency to help you with the process. 

5. Quality Assurance   

Make sure every single function of your app works efficiently. The app with continuous glitches is annoying to customers. Your public transport app should be able to display the essential functions that the users require to ensure a soothing browsing experience. To eliminate the glitches and bugs, it is necessary to re-runs and performs rigorous testing. Apply all the standard techniques that are required to deliver optimum efficiency. 

6. Launch    

After all the efforts of designing and development, it’s time to launch your real-time public transport app. You would require a set of result-oriented marketing skills to make your app popular. To ensure growth, you should try releasing a beta version of your app first and collect feedback from the customers. Depending on the feedback, you can proceed towards the launch of a full-fledged application. 


Making your app sophisticated and robust, you should implement the right set of technological standards or stacks in your application. 

A transportation app based on real-time is different from other existing transport applications in many ways. The app developers working in your app must be aware of the technicalities and the system associated with this genre. The primary concern that comes with developing these transit apps is integrating the APIs provided by the governmental authorities and the controlling departments of public transportation. 

The mobile app developers working on your project must access the database of all the available public vehicles and departments embedded with the sensors. With all these technicalities, you must take the help of a reputed mobile app development company. 

This relatively new concept of real-time public transit app is taking the high crowded cities by storm. It is a basic need for the people living in metropolitan cities. People use these applications for analyzing train and bus timings, traffic, and time required to complete different routes. 

Cost of Developing a Public Transport App    

Everything boils down to the cost required to develop a real-time public transit app. To finalize the cost of development of your application, you are required to decide the functionalities, features design, and the company you are choosing for the development of your app. 

Adding basic features will cost you less as compared to an app with multiple features. A mobile app development company can quote an amount based on their customized plans. Either you will be charged on an hourly basis, or you will be charged for the hours and human resources invested in your project. 

An app developed with a complete set of advanced features and a full-fledged technology stack will cost you more money, but it will enhance the chances of your app becoming a big hit. 

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The perfect real-time public transportation app must have everything at once that is required to navigate through a city or country, such as a map, ticket booking system, trip assistant, and a mini travel guide. Flexibility should be the goal of every public transit app developer when it comes to operations. The core features such as schedules, real-time notifications, and location tracking are most important for any app. 

A custom map with live tracking, seamless ticket booking, information on sights, and walking tours can enhance the user’s experience. 

At Matellio, our team of experienced mobile app developers can help you build your public transport app. We have delivered several public transit apps and are generating significant revenues. To convert your idea into reality, get in touch with us. 

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