Navigating Moscow’s Metro, with Métro.

As I wrote in yesterday’s post, Nokia’s Ovi Maps was an invaluable tool to navigate the (not so) mean streets of Moscow. But the city’s vast Metro system is a beast unto itself.

Fortunately I had a little offline app that I’ve been using since my first trip to Tokyo in 2001. It’s called Métro — think of it as crowd-sourced navigation for mass rail transit worldwide.

MetrO Splash

Here’s what it looks like on my N86. The download tips the scales at just under 6.5 MB — not bad considering that almost every major transit system in the world is included. There’s also an online version for your desktop web browser, and if data roaming charges aren’t a concern there are WAP and i-mode versions as well. i-Métro for i-mode (Japan’s famous mobile Internet if you didn’t know) should work on any mobile device with a proper data connection.

MetrO Non-Touch Quirks

Because it was originally designed for the Palm OS, there are definitely some UI quirks on non-touch devices. Ordinarily you would tap on one of those big sign icons to get a list of departure stations or destinations. On my N86 I need to press the left soft-key and then choose from a menu like the one seen above.

I’m not entirely sure why there isn’t a version of Métro for S60 v5/Symbian^1, as the app is clearly optimized for touch-screen devices.

MetrO Results

And here’s Métro in action.

In this example I’ve plotted a trip from Revolution Square to VDNKh, where the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics is located. Despite being mostly text, Métro provides the Line numbers, line colours and the terminus station for every train — which in Moscow (and back home in Toronto) is front and centre on the first car.

I seem to remember earlier versions of Métro also listing the number of stops between transfers, but that may well have been scrapped to keep the growing database of cities to a manageable size. That’s the other thing: Métro’s network of transit lines is managed by it users. The authors even provide a template for you to contribute data from the city where you live.

Métro isn’t meant to replace the signage in a Metro station or maps posted inside a train, but it does fantastically well as a quick and effective route planner before you head underground. And despite my utter disdain for iTunes I’m glad to see that Métro is available there — hopefully it’s not going anywhere soon.

I sure could use it on my N97, though…