Whether you like it or not, you’ll probably find yourself in need of a CATA bus sooner or later. Whether it’s pouring rain, freezing, or you’re just too tired to walk all the way back to East Halls or your apartment downtown, the CATA bus is a trusty resource.
Rather than sitting at the bus stop hoping a White Loop is close by, most of us opt for a mobile app for all our CATA information. There are a handful of apps that supply this information, however. The question is: which one is best for you? We broke it down for you.
CATA (iPhone and Android)
The standard CATA bus app is probably the most popular and widely used among students. The APP description boasts, “Now Optimized for iOS 7, the CATA app is the best way to plan your day around Penn State, State College, and the surrounding area. No more freezing outside or watching the bus pull away as you run after it. See where buses are in real-time, get scheduled and estimated departure times by stop, and provide feedback on CATA’s bus service.”
- The bus times are accurate for the most part.
- Though it may be slow time to time, the application rarely crashes as long as you’re phone is in good shape.
- The interface is easy and clean enough to manage.
- The CATA bus app works well with the iPhone, the most commonly used smart phone.
- The classic “There are no buses running at this time!” message during the middle of the day. This is a glitch that seems to have happened to us all, but with the recent update of the app, should occur much less frequently.
- There is no way to know which direction the bus is moving, so perhaps an arrow to distinguish this would be helpful, rather than constantly refreshing the page or having to research into specific destination times.
CATA+ (Android Only)
The CATA+ app is a new and improved version of the normal CATA app. However, this is not the official CATA app and the developer is not related to CATA (Centre Area Transportation Authority).
- Consistent real-time information regarding bus arrivals.
- A generally more reliable and faster experience than the regular CATA app.
- You can create your own custom group routes and display multiple bus links and routes on a single map.
- The Developer, Gil Cottle, independently created the app, and offers great advice and replies to every complaint or problem on the app’s page.
- Not compatible with iPhone or any other smart phone device. (With an average rating of 4.5 stars on Google Apps, that’s the only true con we could find!)
myStop Mobile (iPhone and Android)
This app includes useful and unique features, but requires more steps to access basic location and arrival information.
- In addition to bus locations and real-time arrivals, this app give you the option of trip planning.
- You have the option to receive alerts so you don’t miss your bus.
- There is access to walking directions for any stop, which could be a great feature for students new to Penn State or those visiting for a short time.
- There is a clunky interface that feels a bit more archaic compared to the other apps.
- Because it takes more time and energy to access basic location and arrival information, this app isn’t the greatest for students who are familiar with the Penn State and primarily seek travel info solely for campus, not surrounding areas.
PSU Mobile (iPhone and Android)
The PSU Mobile web includes a bus tracking feature for both the CATABUS Campus and Community Service routes. This app offers the same accuracy on bus locations as the full featured CATABUS app, but on a website that is designed for mobile devices.
- Because the map function is connected to other Penn State information, it is a useful option if you want quick access to Penn State news, your class schedule, people directory, and other perks like information on nearby libraries and computer labs.
- Because this is technically a website, it has the potential to drain your phone battery and data much more than actual downloaded apps.
- Though there is more Penn State information readily available, it can easily become a cluttered alternative if you are only seeking bus times and locations and nothing else.
Though the CATA bus systems are bound to have their occasional flaws and hiccups during high-traffic days and incidents, there is a useful mobile app for everyone. And if all else fails? There’s no harm in legging it out for the day and skipping your trip to the gym, which is an entirely new adventure to tackle.