2006_07_16_derby.jpg

Figuring out how to get where you are going, without driving, in a city with as many options as our own can be a chore. After very little time in the city your average New Yorker (imported or native) normally has a pretty good grasp of their basic routes but beyond that things can quickly get hazy. Enter the internet. Just like Mapquest and Google Maps simplified driving directions, the past two years has seen a cottage industry of municipal directions services pop up. The Times today takes a look at three of them, two of which we'd, tellingly, never heard of: HopStop, Trips123 and PublicRoutes.

All three sites have their ups and downs, and all have different methods of offering directions. To prove the point the Times asked each site how to get from the Empire State Building to Macy's in Brooklyn:

HopStop provided what seemed to be the most direct route, instructing users to take a city bus from the Empire State Building, at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue, to the subway station at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue. From there, it told riders to take the No. 2 or No. 3 train to the Hoyt Street Station in Fulton Mall in Brooklyn, about a block from Macy’s.

PublicRoutes guided users to the subway station at 34th Street and Avenue of the Americas, and on the Brooklyn-bound B train to the station at DeKalb and Flatbush Avenues. That left users with a four-block walk to Macy’s.

Trips123 directed users to the same subway station at 34th Street, but said to take the Brooklyn-bound Q train to DeKalb and Flatbush Avenues. (The B and the Q both stop at DeKalb and Flatbush, but use different routes through Lower Manhattan.)

Interesting... As for us, when we've got a random destination we generally will use HopStop, mostly because it offers to text an edited set of directions to your cellphone (which we've found is also a great way to not forget that esoteric address in Queens). Do you use any of these services? Which do you prefer?

Paping Soap Box Derby, Brooklyn Heights, 7/15/06 by Erena Kittenclaw via Contribute. See her full set of Derby photos here.