New York, Boston, Buenos Aires, Paris and Rome have them. Now San Juan joins the growing group of cities with its own app for navigating the metro area’s public transportation system.
The name? Guawa, an app launched three weeks ago by the creators of the Tren Urbano app.
Still in beta testing, Guawa is available for free on the Apple Store, while the Android version should be available by the end of the month. The beta phase is the last period of testing before the official release of a computer program or application.
“The app is easy to use. The map looks like the Uber map. Depending on your location, it shows you the available routes, ”explained Giancarlo González, one of the creators of Guawa.
As of now, the island’s premier transportation app includes the ALSA route from Caguas to San Juan and Isla Verde, the First Transit route from Santurce to Old San Juan, the Tren Urbano stops (San Juan rail system) and the free shuttle service from Plaza Las Américas to the Hato Rey district nicknamed “Pon de Plaza”.
In addition to helping you find bus and train stops in the metro area, Guawa offers an estimate of wait time and cost of the trip. For example, a bus ride from Covadonga Station in Old San Juan to Caguas Terminal costs $ 2.50.
“The idea is to keep adding routes and developing the app to make it economically viable,” González said. THE WEEKLY NEWSPAPER.
Guawa is following in the path of popular apps like Moovit and Transit, trying to make it easier to get around the city by public transit. However, along the way, its developers had to overcome some obstacles.
González explained that while more than 162 cities around the world have adopted a Global Positioning System (GPS) policy to make data available to citizens on the island, this information has remained secret.
To get around this hurdle, Guawa has installed its own GPS on Plaza’s Pon shuttle service and free streetcar system in Old San Juan. Due to its unreliability and the poor shape of the vehicles, Guawa removed the GPS from the carts and deleted the information from its app. The Pon de Plaza schedule remains on the app.
“Initially, the Metropolitan Bus Authority (AMA by its Spanish acronym) installed GPS for fleet management purposes, to track routes, speed, fuel consumption and mileage … But it has been waiting for more than one year an application which is not ready. again, ”said González, who discussed his concerns with WADA Executive Director Santos Delgado.
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“You can pay with the app that creates a passenger record. The application could maintain a rate of 20 to 30 percent [of the fare],” he stated.
Despite the challenge of accessing official information, González said the island’s ecosystem favors the development of new technologies.
As part of his argument, he noted that Puerto Ricans are increasingly connected to the world of digital information through smartphones and easily adapt to new technologies. According to the Puerto Rico Telecommunications Regulatory Board, the island has more cell phones than people. In November, the agency reported 3,380,477 mobile connections for a population of 3.1 million.
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Last year, Guawa won a $ 20,000 grant from the Small Business Innovation Grant program of the Department of Economic Development. He also received a $ 15,000 grant from StartUP Puerto Rico.
“People deserve reliable and accessible transportation,” González said.