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On The Net - Issue 12

On The Net is a regular Internet column for handheld computing magazine Palmtop User. The column is put together by the FileSaveAs team, and we'd like to thank Palmtop User for allowing us to include back issues on our site.

Mobile Travel Special

Over the last few years, mobile Internet access has moved on in leaps and bounds -we've moved on from the early days of WAP, services are more reliable, and the quality and quantity of information for those of us who make use of the road, rail and air networks every day, has greatly improved too.

In this issue, we're talking a look at some of the traffic and travel services available to the mobile warrior struggling to get from A to B in the UK. For readers elsewhere in the world, a quick web search should reveal some equally useful hotspots for local travel information wherever you are.


Traffic TV - This service provides still images from a range of CCTV cameras on the positioned on major roads, coupled with a map showing the current speed of traffic from a network on sensors dotted around motorways and A roads. This is available for a number of Java-enabled mobile phones as well as Window Mobile devices

AA Travelwatch - This site offers both a text and a map-based summary of motoring hotspots, searchable by road or region. For a fee, the site can text you when there's a hold-up on your regular commute.

Highways Agency - The UK Government's roads site at provides information on roadworks to help with journey planning - it's also worth looking at their Traffic Forecaster to get a picture of your future trips. The Highways Agency is currently trialling a PDA-friendly streaming audio feed of road news, which plays perfectly on our GPRS-enabled Pocket PC.

Tip - If you use the excellent TomTom navigation software on your PDA or mobile, check out for details of how to upgrade to your route planning solution to support re-routing to avoid traffic hotstops. The TomTom Traffic service uses an Internet connection to download travel data over-the-air.


National Rail provides UK-wide train information for mobile users. Their main site is optimised for use with a PDA browser, and they also offer a WAP service for mobile phone users. Their site allows you to plan a journey between any two UK railway stations, providing timetable and ticket information. For regular travellers, access to their Live Departure Board will be something worth bookmarking, as this provides real-time information on the progress of trains - useful whether you're leaving the office for the station, or waiting on a freezing cold platform waiting to meet someone.

Many of the UK rail companies offer extended services via their own website. Go to for links.


AirText provide a text message flight information service for UK arrivals and departures. Whether catching or meeting a flight, you can use AirText to get up-to-the-minute flight information including (where available) check-in, boarding, final call and real-time updates on delays and cancellations.

Regular jetsetters may want to look at the range of products for PDA users offered by OAG, which allow you to carry an entire database of scheduled flights around with you.


Transport for London are responsible for helping the crowded capital to get around by tube, bus, Docklands Light Railway, train, and riverboat. Their site is to be commended for offering a strong line-up of services for PDA and mobile phone users. This includes online journey planners, real-time travel news (with SMS text message alerts), access to train and bus departure boards, and a Java-based interactive tube map.
If you travel around London, find out what's on offer at

All Rounders

BBC Travel - Probably the most comprehensive UK travel news site, covering both roads and public transport - their site is PDA and mobile-friendly, and includes air, ferry and Eurostar travel news, as well as a collection of traffic cams.

Transport Direct - With the motto is ‘Connecting People to Places', this site aims to be the one-stop site for getting anywhere, anyhow. Their site offers a number of services, our favourite being ‘Door-to-door'. Enter your location and destination (by town, postcode or landmark), and you're offered a comparison of the ways to get there using a combination of train, bus, plane, coach, underground and your feet. you're also offered a driving time for comparison. Transport Direct also offer live traffic data for PDA and mobile, and you can access maps that include bus stops, taxi ranks, car parks, rail/tube stations and airports.

Recently, the BBC opened up their data feeds to developers, allowing the content to be used in new and innovative ways, and there are several services already available, a list of which can be found at . Our personal favourite is which takes the BBC live travel feed and overlays it onto Google Maps, offering a scrollable, zoomable map of the UK, with colour-coded icons to represent travel and traffic hotspots - impressive stuff, although sadly, Google Maps doesn't run on most PDA browsers.


Article from Palmtop User Issue 12. For more on mobile travel news, see this site's Travel page, or the PDA-friendly version.

Click here for Issue 12's article


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