During the 8-9am rush and the 5-6pm journey home from work, more and more people are turning to their iPhones for ways to shorten their commute, make it more pleasant, or even more cost effective. Here are five examples of how social media has been used to help commuters.

Helping people carpool

Although sites like Gumtree have been around for years with sections offering people to share lifts, there are now dedicated social networking sites and apps like ZimRide, which match up commuters to meet and carpool, saving money and the environment!

Helping people shorten commutes

There are a number of apps available that help commuters shortern their commutes, by avoiding traffic and delays. The variety of apps is vast, from iCartel, TrafficTV, to Aha Mobile. There are also infographics and social apps that help commuters find more permanent residence for short term commuting, such as this one by Gartoo on finding a house in london.

Helping people meet new people

A more recent trend has been apps that actually help people meet other commuters who follow the same routes as them. Submate and Bumped.in are two of the most popular apps with this functionality.

Helping us navigate new places

Apps like GoogleMaps and Waze are great tools for navigating the most optimum routes, but in a new city you may not know any route at all. That’s what apps like Hopstop and AroundMe are for.

A final question just to provoke some thoughts is, are these apps and tools really making our commutes shorter, funner, and cheaper in the long run? Bare in mind that the costs associated with having a smartphone are very high, and not just financially. They eat your time, they make you less approachable and so therefore less likely to meet new people, they eat your money, and they eat your brain power as you don’t need to think as intensely as much.

Are smartphones really making our commutes better or worse?