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How Citymapper handles unplanned disruptions

A peek inside Citymapper’s ‘live operation room’, where we combat real-time transit interruptions — with better data, and a range of user-first app features.

Via Transportation •

Your train’s delayed. There’s an unexpected surge of traffic on the highway. Crowds pour out into the streets when Taylor Swift wraps up. It's a scenario you know all too well: how will you get home?

Navigating a journey amid unforeseen service disruptions is nerve-wracking, but it doesn’t need to be. And this is where Citymapper — a multi-year winner of Apple's App of the Year — comes in. In addition to convenient features that help when you need them most (there’s a reason the “get me home” button gets large and easy-to-find late at night ), Citymapper has the most up-to-date information on transit disruptions, and alternate routes, of any journey planner.

Screenshot from the app of Citymapper.

How does our team do it? Read on to learn the secrets behind our ‘live operation room’, a place where we battle unplanned disruptions for our 50+ million users, helping travelers around the world have the smoothest possible travel experience.

Live disruption alerts.

The last thing we want is to leave users unaware and stranded during disruptions. That’s why when a travel hiccup happens, Citymapper gives users a heads-up, in real-time — from the start of a journey to its completion. Citymapper integrates a comprehensive collection of transit feeds, encompassing widely used formats like General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS), as well as localized formats such as Really Simple Syndication (RSS). The app even takes Twitter feeds and Telegram channels into account, ensuring users don’t miss any interruption updates, no matter where the information lives. We’ve built comprehensive algorithms to process these feeds automatically, but we know that human judgment and manual checking are irreplaceable to ensure 100% accuracy. Our dedicated team of in-house experts is here to assist you. Using a range of custom-built tools — and a few very busy Slack channels — the team makes sure disruption feeds get processed and reflected correctly in the app.

Even better, Citymapper filters out old information so that users only get the most relevant updates, whether it’s recurring maintenance or the nitty-gritty details of bus stop relocations.


The diverse source of transit feeds that CM manages.


Route around disruptions.

Citymapper goes the extra mile when managing disruptions: we don’t just inform our users — our proprietary technology reflects these disruptions in our travel advice. Riders can always count on Citymapper to reroute with a list of trip options, estimated time of arrival, and the cost of travel. A to B routing results are adjusted immediately so that the best possible usable route is ranked at the top.

While rerouting around disruptions, Citymapper makes full use of all available transportation modes by leveraging the 'mixed mode' feature. It enables riders to plan their journey using a combination of transportation modes, such as using bikeshares or shared ride/taxi to reach a train station that would otherwise be a bit too far of a walk.

All options, all in one place.

When public transit is disrupted, the usage of micromobility usually spikes. Citymapper becomes especially useful in such scenarios, as it integrates all other traveling options under one roof, enabling users for easy comparison and access. The app now boasts an extensive network of ~700 private providers globally. With Citymapper's comprehensive integration of different mobility providers — including micromobility services like e-scooters, bikeshares, mopeds, and private ride-hailing — riders can always find the best possible alternatives to get to their destination amid interruptions.

Riders can always find the best possible alternatives to get to their destination amid interruptions

The high coverage of mobility providers also allows Citymapper to update the riders with real-time information about all existing routes, schedules, and availability of services.

With Citymapper’s powerful disruption management technologies — and our dedicated team —  delays won’t catch riders off guard. 

Explore the free app now!

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