A large number of us commute daily, to and from work and it is a nightmare each time, whether you drive, take a matatu or use the train (let us be honest, this system is not reliable yet). Traffic is a given, that’s the one predictable thing about our transport system. You can escape it sure, by probably leaving your house at some ungodly hour just to get to your office and continue sleeping or catching up on sleep in your cold car at the parking lot.
However more and more people are catching up on this, making traffic start much earlier forcing one to leave even earlier than before, have to stock a pillow and blanket in your car or under your desk! It is pure madness. Same applies for the evening commute. If you do not want to pluck your hair out in unmovable traffic, you might just prefer to stay in the office for a few more hours. All that this does is to reduce time spent at home with your actual family other than your traffic buddies. However, unless you want to be among the walking dead each day, there are a few tools/applications you can use to outsmart traffic.
I’m pretty sure we all know about Ma3Route. They have an application on Android with around 5000 downloads, but I think their Twitter account is more popular and mostly used with around 270K followers. This is not a surprise, Kenyans love their Twitter! Anyway, before I leave the house or office every day, I must check my twitter timeline for Ma3Route updates. Not only is it quick and relevant with pictures and information from other Twitter users, it is also pretty funny.
Kenyans really know how to make traffic updates comical yet very accurate. This is a must I think for anyone, especially when you encounter a snarl up unexpectedly, you can always check Ma3Route and see if anyone has information about it. This could also guide you in taking alternative routes or avoiding areas where someone has spotted something as dangerous such as a violent demonstration. It is so convenient and useful that my mother asked me to set up her Twitter account just for Ma3Route. Go figure!
Now Waze is a traffic application that I really like and I talked about it a couple of months back. Waze is a traffic update application bought by Google back in 2013 that does pretty much everything you would want a traffic application to do. It has a myriad of features and advantages for using it as opposed to reading tweets on Ma3Route or using their app that I talked about when I reviewed it.
The one feature however that I think would help you outsmart traffic is the one that gives you directions to your destination based on the route that has the least amount of traffic. This is handy when you have multiple routes and you are not too sure which one to take. It is pretty accurate because it uses real time data to make this calculations so much so that you can even get the exact time you will arrive at your destination. Try it out if you have not done so yet. This application of course is best used if you drive yourself to work but maybe you can be offer that nugget of wisdom to your matatu driver.
ACCESS KENYA TRAFFIC CAMERAS
I don’t know if many of you know this, but you can actually access the network of traffic cameras on major roads by done by Access Kenya. This allows you to have a clear picture about the state of a road that you are going to use. It is a very handy tool that has a lot of major roads in Nairobi and a few in Mombasa too. This images of the roads refresh every 6 seconds showing you a pretty accurate state of the roads. If you know how a particular road or the notorious roundabouts look like, then it is very simple to figure out a plan. However I noticed one camera still showed a daytime image when it was 7 pm, but most of them work pretty okay. Another thing to note is that the images get very very grainy at night and you may not be sure what you are looking at unless you have been monitoring that same road from daytime. Check it out here and plan your commute accordingly.
SPOTIFY AND YOUR FAVORITE PODCAST APP
I know, I know, this has nothing to do with outsmarting traffic, but its more about making your moments in traffic a bit more bearable. Spotify is a music streaming app for those who may not know and it opens you up to way more music than your local radio station can, so if your radio sucks, do yourself a favor and open the app and have a mini-karaoke session singing along to your favorite jams. If you have really good headphones, plug those in and mute out the matatu noise! Spotify isn’t available just like that in Kenya, but we did give you a way to get it on your phone. Just follow these simple steps.
Same thing applies for Podcasts. I love podcasts and they are a must listen on my commute to work. So if you fancy a bit of inspiration, stories or banter you actually care about, podcast are a good traffic companion. My favorite Podcast application is Pocket Casts on Android. Sure it is not a free app, but it is definitely worth it, although free podcasts apps also exists, like Pocket Addict or Podcast Republic, so it’s all a matter of preference.