New York's MTA releases train-locating app for iPhone and iPod touch

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
The Metropolitan Transit Authority on Friday released an iOS app that will let riders of seven train lines plan their trips to the minute, a first for the largest subway system in the U.S.

MTA Subway Time


The official MTA Subway Time app uses train location data to provide iPhone and iPod touch owners with up-to-the-minute arrival times for seven of the system's 24 lines.

According to The New York Times, the MTA spent 11 years and over $228 million to install digital train-tracking sensors and relevant equipment required to serve up real-time location data. The iOS app taps into the system and feeds commuters with arrival times, though the service is available mostly aboveground as cellular extension networks planned for underground stations have yet to be completed. A large portion of the subway's train location sensors date back fifty years, just before the proliferation of microprocessors and digital communications.

Among the first lines to get support for the new free service are Nos. 1 through 6 and the 42nd Street Shuttle. Two more lines, the L line between Brooklyn and Manhattan's 14th Street and the No. 7 line between Queens and Midtown Manhattan, are currently being upgraded to be compatible with the new system. Updates to the L line are expected to be completed in six months to a year, while the No. 7 won't be ready until at least 2016.

According to the app's description, users will also be notified of service delays and reroutes prior to fare payment, a useful tool for on-the-go commuters.

Android and Windows Phone versions of the app are in the works, but unlike the iOS app, those will be built by third-party companies. The agency is also allowing developers access to the sensor data feeds, allowing app makers to build real-time tracking programs with more robust features than those offered by the official app.

MTA Subway Time for iOS is available now as a free download through the App Store.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    That'll increase the crime rate!
  • Reply 2 of 37


    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

    That'll increase the crime rate!


     


    Finding trains but not iPhones… 


     


    Maybe New York City should ban subways.

  • Reply 3 of 37


    Thought this was commonplace! There's loads of apps like that for the London Underground, and has been for some time.

  • Reply 4 of 37
    And a lovely design and GUI typical of the MTA. Those floating 2's, messing up the line height on screen 3 is painful
  • Reply 5 of 37
    Well it might increase the crime rate because more people will be referring to the subway schedule on their phone - which would otherwise be in their pocket and not in front of the eyes of would be criminals.
  • Reply 6 of 37

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Euphonious View Post


    Thought this was commonplace! There's loads of apps like that for the London Underground, and has been for some time.



     


    I don't know about the London Underground, but there are a number of other apps that provide NYC Subway information, including schedules. The difference with this one is that it give arrival times based on tracking the actual positions of the trains in the tunnels, not from the schedules which are notoriously inaccurate. The lines they've included this data for already have signs on the platforms that give the same arrival time information, so it's not really that big a deal that there's no cell service on the platforms. You just have to look up, not down at your phone. It's also a relatively small subset of lines that they are providing this information for.


     


    It is interesting that they are going to allow 3rd parties access to the data.

  • Reply 7 of 37

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    Finding trains but not iPhones… 


     


    Maybe New York City should ban subways.



     


    Bloomberg doesn't run the MTA.

  • Reply 8 of 37
    Yet a few hours ago they blamed the Apple for NYC crime rate?? What is wrong with these people??
  • Reply 9 of 37


    There have been apps that do this (real time countdown information) for the London Underground (and, infact, the entire UK wide national railway network) and the San Francisco BART system for ages. What's taken New York so long?

  • Reply 10 of 37
    jakebjakeb Posts: 557member
    Nyc subway is one of the only systems that runs 24 hours a day. There's a lot less time for big overhauls when you don't shut down between midnight and 6.
  • Reply 11 of 37
    sr2012sr2012 Posts: 896member
    Hope they have a tips section for tourist noobs like myself... like a deer in the headlights when i suddenly found myself going the wrong way with a horde of people coming in my direction. A stern but helpful gentleman put two arms on my shoulders and "shifted" me out of their way. Ah, New York, New York.

    I can die happy knowing I genuinely pissed off a New Yorker.
    euphonious wrote: »
    Thought this was commonplace! There's loads of apps like that for the London Underground, and has been for some time.

    London vs NYC... Fight, fight, fight!
  • Reply 12 of 37


    Umm..  so how exactly do riders get real-time location update underground?  


     


    it's not NYT, it's WSJ. 

  • Reply 13 of 37
    sr2012sr2012 Posts: 896member
    tooltalk wrote: »
    Umm..  so how exactly do riders get real-time location update underground?  

    it's not NYT, it's WSJ. 

    You don't have 3G in subways in New York? And... Yes, it comes to mind, BTW, "Flatbush city limits.... la la la..."
  • Reply 14 of 37
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,976member
    phlip wrote: »
    There have been apps that do this (real time countdown information) for the London Underground (and, infact, the entire UK wide national railway network) and the San Francisco BART system for ages. What's taken New York so long?

    The NYC subway system has over 700 miles of tracks and most of it underground. The L line was once dilapidated, forgotten, and forsaken by the MTA until hipsters decided to move into Brooklyn along that line.
  • Reply 15 of 37
    What a great use of technology! As a former resident of NYC, I can see how useful that information would be. Leaving work, restaurant, etc. you have a number of modes of transportation available to you: cab, bus, subway. Just a second to see if you just missed a train or it's on the way. Great!
  • Reply 16 of 37

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tooltalk View Post


    Umm..  so how exactly do riders get real-time location update underground?  


     


    it's not NYT, it's WSJ. 



     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sr2012 View Post





    You don't have 3G in subways in New York? And... Yes, it comes to mind, BTW, "Flatbush city limits.... la la la..."


     


    No, there is no cell service in the tunnels and most of the underground platforms. (Some platforms are close enough to the surface, just below the street, that you can sometimes get a signal, probably through the ventilation gratings. On the other hand, not all of the Subway is underground, even in Manhattan.)


     


    But, the lines they are offering this train location data for already have signs on the platforms that provide the same arrival time information. So, for these stations, it doesn't matter if you even have an iPhone or not, you can just look at the signs.

  • Reply 17 of 37
    sr2012sr2012 Posts: 896member
    anonymouse wrote: »

    No, there is no cell service in the tunnels and most of the underground platforms. (Some platforms are close enough to the surface, just below the street, that you can sometimes get a signal, probably through the ventilation gratings. On the other hand, not all of the Subway is underground, even in Manhattan.)

    But, the lines they are offering this train location data for already have signs on the platforms that provide the same arrival time information. So, for these stations, it doesn't matter if you even have an iPhone or not, you can just look at the signs.

    Fair enough, thanks for the clarification. I was not being jostling, by the way.
  • Reply 18 of 37


    "the MTA spent 11 years and over $228 million to install digital train-tracking sensors"


     


    Somewhere a media person reads this article and writes a headline : "MPA pays $228 million in Apple tax! Outrage! Hysteria!"

  • Reply 19 of 37
    Why is the A,C,E line always behind on cool stuff like this? The number lines always get the neat stuff first. A,C,E is still running those old uncomfortable stock, too.

    Come on, MTA. Give some love to A,C,E.
  • Reply 20 of 37

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post


     


     


    No, there is no cell service in the tunnels and most of the underground platforms. (Some platforms are close enough to the surface, just below the street, that you can sometimes get a signal, probably through the ventilation gratings. On the other hand, not all of the Subway is underground, even in Manhattan.)



    For the record that's not true. Transit Wireless runs ATT/TMo at a number of stops and is expanding to more in the next year. There's free Wifi in spots too. While not MTA subway, Verizon runs LTE through the Hudson rail tunnel (Amtrak/NJ Transit) from Secaucus to Penn Station.

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