Better Navigation for Houston’s Train and Bus (and Bike) Crowd

A web app put together by a 23-year-old German programmer lets you figure out how far you can travel on public transportation within a specific time period from any point in Houston — and 60 other cities worldwide. Give Mapnificent an address and a time limit (say 15 minutes) and it’ll mark on a Google map what areas of town are within your reach. Tell the app if you’re lugging around a bike or the maximum distance you’d be willing to walk to a stop or station and the resulting shapes will change accordingly. As Stefan Wehrmeyer’s video above demonstrates, you can also use Mapnificent to figure out areas where you and your car-shunning friends could meet up within 20 minutes — as well as all the coffee-shop, bar, nail-salon, or Apple Store hangouts available to you. More generally useful: Mapnificent can generate a heatmap for any location, showing what neighborhoods around any particular address are quicker or slower to reach by bus or train. (Note: If you don’t have Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, or a car, you’re out of luck. The app doesn’t work on Internet Explorer.)

Video: Stefan Wehrmeyer

11 Comment

  • I was thinking of exactly this last week! It would help narrow down localities to buy a home in based on public transport commutes from my workplace.

  • Hmmmm… strange… in my CAR I don’t need a goofy app to tell me where I can and cannot go. In 20 minutes I can meet my car driving friends at any point in town….. Just saying.

  • ha! as if anyone hip enough to use this app would be caught dead using internet explorer.

  • It works well on bus routes, but assumes I can’t get anywhere on foot or bike in any time.

  • Wow, you mean you can use a car to drive around Houston? Without a phone app? What a novel idea. I wonder if anybody else thought to do that? Me, I was never sure what to do with my car. But let’s try to keep this discovery on the DL, if other people find out they can drive their cars all over Houston, we might start to get really Traffic-y. Thank goodness the majority of houstonians don’t know about cars and instead rely on public transport. Otherwise can you imagine how awful it would be to drive down Kirby?

  • This seems much more practical in a place like New York or where you can be outside for 3 minutes without profusely sweating…

  • I think its very very cool. BUT, I also think his estimates of where you you can go in 15 minutes are VERY optimistic. I have found on Richmond for example, one can wait 20 minutes for a bus that is supposed to run every 10.

  • I wish relying on public transit was a realist option here in Houston but, sadly, we lack the basic infrastructure that most major cities around the world have.

  • I’d settle for walk-able sidewalks. There are parts of Washington ave. where you have a 18 inch curb with a telephone pole in the middle as “sidewalk”.

  • @Aron

    Odd, my experience with New York is completely different. Namely, how hot it is there, and how hard it is to escape the heat. Yeah, I was walking around there last week, and stepping into the subway was like entering the bowels of hell. Hot, humid, and packed tight with angry people. During the winter? Cold, humid, and packed tight with angry people.

    I’ll keep my car and Houston.

  • If Metro buses would simply stop at major intersections only and not every bloody corner, it would be a viable option, of course you still have the sidewalk issue, which the city should get in gear with, I mean come on!