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Hopstop: Too Much Stopping, Not Enough Hopping

By Joanna Miller in News on Aug 1, 2006 4:55PM

Daily Candy pointed us to's new Chicago site today, and the prospect of a new online system to plan our public transportation routes had us very excited indeed. Sure, the CTA’s Trip Planner has helped us find our way on occasion, but we don’t always get the most direct route and we often fare better by analyzing the system map ourselves.

2006_08_01hopstop.jpgWe hopped on over to Hopstop, with high expectations. Only instead of a hop, skip and a jump to our chosen destination, it was more like a hop, skip, jump, spin around twice, touch your toes, and sing a show tune while bouncing on one leg for three blocks. And that’s a lot of work. Especially in this heat.

In short, Hopstop let us down, and we won’t be recommending it anytime soon. We asked the site to get us from Lincoln and Belmont to Wrigley Field, thinking we’d start out with a nice easy trip. Instead of prompting us to take the Belmont bus to the Belmont Red Line stop and then north to Addison, Hopstop sent us in the opposite direction on the southbound Lincoln bus to the Fullerton Red Line stop and then back north to Addison. We were equally frustrated trying to get from Lincoln Square to US Cellular Field as Hopstop sent us on two buses, instead of the obvious Brown Line to Red Line trip.

Next, we attempted to find our way home from work. Now, we don’t work in the Sears Tower, but it is a sizeable building. But despite several attempts, Hopstop couldn’t recognize the address.

Launched as a New York site in 2004, Hopstop is definitely designed for New Yorkers. If you’re looking for a train route, you’ll have to search under “subway,” and the city field gives you the option of entering a borough instead. Not that we have any hate for the Big Apple, but if you’re going to launch a site for Chicago, little touches like that make a big difference.

Our final gripe: We don’t like how the directions include a separate line for every stop we need to pass before getting off the bus or train. It might be helpful in some cases, especially on a bus with a broken announcement system, but it makes the directions seem much longer and more complicated than they actually are. We like that the directions can be accessed from a PDA or a cell phone, but we think a small screen would only make these instructions even more irritating.