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Pandav releases mass transit navigation iPhone app for London (exclusive)

London commuters have something new to cheer now that their city is the latest to get a free route-planner iPhone app from Pandav. The app, called Ride London Tube, lets users plan trips on mass transit with a deceptively simple touch interface.

“This is our first international release. And we’re going to take London very seriously,” Pandav co-founder David Hodge told VentureBeat in an interview. The app launched last week.

Pandav apps have offline navigation and arrival times, so users can find the ideal route to their destination in the widest variety of circumstances. Realtime updates are another key feature available on Pandav’s navigation apps, so when users have a data connection, they can be alerted to track construction and other possible delays, and plan accordingly.

The London app offers the same touchscreen navigation as the developer’s other apps, but will soon be able to alert riders to the availability of so-called “Boris Bikes” at their destinations — Boris Bikes are the citywide bike-sharing program spearheaded by London Mayor Boris Johnson. The hope is that the app will be used by locals and tourists alike.

“Definitely the biggest thing we learned was that there are many people who are comfortable enough with transit systems but didn’t even realize how much of their time they wasted without our app,” says Hodge. “With that in mind, we honed trip planning and made sure we could provide people with good delay/reroute information.”

San Francisco-based Pandav thinks it has a winner should it start selling location-based deals, because when people are in transit, they’re neither at home or at work, and are most receptive to location-based offers. As a opposed to a location service like Foursquare that knows where you are when you check in, Pandav knows where you’re going to be, because the app is helping you make better public transportation decisions.

With their first $3,000 the Pandav team was able to roll out iBart, the transit app for Bay Area commuters, and chalk up more than half a million users. Today Pandav apps are available for transit riders in New York City (MTA, Metro-North, Long Island Railroad) Chicago (Metra  and CTA, aka the L), and the Washington D.C. Metro, as well as the newly-launched London Tube map. Hodge says he’s seeing 1.4 million sessions per month, and they’re growing by 25 percent month-to-month.

With the 2012 Summer Olympics just around the corner in London, the Pandav team expects that tens of thousands of people may be using this app during the games to get around the city. “We aim to be able to help tourists get to specific events easily and help locals avoid the madness as much as possible. So that means specific event listings with built-in directions,” said Hodge. “It sounds straightforward on the surface, but it get’s pretty involved.”

Pandav has three full-time employees and part-time designer, and has received unattributed funding.

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