Don’t want to drive in Metro Vancouver? A new app may have the answers

Mobi bikes are one of the transportation modes that can be found in Cowlines, new app being beta-tested in Metro Vancouver. City of Vancouver

If you’d rather not drive around Vancouver, an app incorporating ‘multi-model transportation’ options is on the way.

‘Cowlines’ is an app being beta-tested that gives people multiple options for getting around Metro Vancouver. It combines data from TransLink, Mobi bike, Modo car co-op, and taxis to give users a variety of options that can help them reach their destination.

Cowlines CEO David Oliver joined the Lynda Steele Show on Monday to discuss the ins and outs of his project.

Oliver said using the app is straightforward. Once the user punches in their destination, Oliver said the app will produce the fastest, the cheapest, and the best options for someone, even if they want to get some extra steps in.

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“You can set up your maximum walking distance if you want to walk that day,” Oliver said. “The best is a combination of factors including calories burned, transfers and so forth.”

The idea of this app was inspired by the commute Oliver’s wife makes from Richmond to the North Shore for work. He said the trip she makes can be a challenge on any day, especially when it is pouring rain outside.

“Taking just the bus is really hard on a rainy day, and driving is even worse,” Oliver said.

Live-traffic updates are also factored into the options a user receives, which are embedded from Google Maps as an underlying layer Oliver said. He recalled talking to a woman who lived near his house that was going to pay $46 for a taxi ride into Gastown, but Oliver wanted to give her another option.

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“I typed in the destination, and it said to maybe take a cab to a bus stop in Richmond, then take a bus,” Oliver said. “You get there two minutes earlier and it will be $16 vs. $46.”

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Oliver also said Cowlines calculates the Co2 emissions per km for every mode of transportation and will show users the equivalent of a private vehicle trip.

The app is expected to be available for free download in April, and will only be available for iPhone users to start.

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