You can now finally navigate the PATH on your phone
You know what's cooler than living on top of the largest underground shopping complex in the world? Being able to walk through said complex for three freaking minutes without getting lost.
The Toronto Underground PATH network is amazing, but what it's best known for is how difficult it is to navigate.
Did you know that you can walk from the MTCC to Yonge-Dundas Square without ever stepping foot outdoors? I did, but somehow always end up walking in circles under the TD Centre every time I try.
I’m someone who prides myself on knowing Toronto *really* well, but man is the PATH system (i.e. labyrinth) ever confusing.— Corey Brendan (@coreybrendan) May 2, 2018
Measures have been taken in recent years to help people better figure out where they are, and where they're going within the 30-kilometre underground maze.
It appears as though Toronto PATH did have an iPhone app of its own at one point but, as of 2018, that app has been removed from the app store.
"It's an amazing piece of infrastructure, but current maps don't do it justice," says Toronto-based inventor and entrepreneur Eric Rotberg of the underground network.
"I've noticed that a lot of people, myself included, kind of dread this place," he continued, pointing to how notoriously difficult the PATH is to navigate. "So I decided to do something about it."
Working with a team of developers, Rotberg has created a mobile website called pathmap that uses "a unique navigation algorithm to help users orient and navigate in the PATH."
Robterg says that iOS and Android versions of pathmap are in beta now, but will soon be released with additional features, such as a step-by-step directions ("Go right at the Tim Hortons. Continue past the Swarovski store.")
In the meantime, anyone can pull up the web-based version of pathmap on a smartphone and figure out how to get from point A to point B inside the PATH almost immediately.
If you're at City Hall, for example, and want to get to Burger King, you can select those two places from a drop down menu of roughly 11,000 businesses and voila: a map you can actually follow.
"Users can find their current location and plot a walking path to their desired destination," says Rotberg, by "simply selecting a location on the map."
Dear @torontopath can you please make an interactive map with GPS so I know where the fuck I am underground from my phone a la @googlemaps ? It'd be much appreciated 🤞k thanks pic.twitter.com/05E6H61yN0— Kyra (@kyrapetticrew) November 9, 2017
Still, as so many people wonder all the time, why can't we just use Google Maps or some sort of app to find our way using GPS? Like we do above ground?
Because, as Rotberg explains, GPS doesn't work in the PATH.
This is why we can only see where specific stores are located in relation to the streets above them on Google Maps — which doesn't help much since the PATH has a completely different and unique layout.
Rotberg says that with pathmap, you can find your location easily by typing in the name of any business you are near in the search bar.
The app will know where you are based on the location of that business and guide you to where you'd like to be.
Toronto's "PATH" network is downtown Toronto’s (mostly) underground walkway linking 30 kilometres of shopping, services and entertainment. It's the world's largest underground pedestrian network, yet, there is still no proper smartphone app available to guide. @TorontoComms pic.twitter.com/zWNkGDypLm— Ed Shiels (@Ed_Shiels) January 4, 2018
It's no GPS, but this system is the farthest we've gotten in terms of digital navigation tools for the PATH, so far, and it's still incredibly helpful for figuring out how to find your way to a specific location within the most confusing underground mall of all time.
"The application is fast, stable and user feedback has been overwhelmingly positive," says Rotberg of the app.
"Our vision is to collaborate with the City of Toronto to reach a larger user base, incorporate many of the desired features, and keep the app ad free."
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