Feature Article

December 31, 2012

Is My Subway Train Here Yet?

Outgoing chairman of the board and chief executive officer for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York, Joseph Lhota, announced a new app for your smartphone that will let straphangers know when the next train will pull into their station.

According to transit officials, the app – “Subway Time App” – is still undergoing Beta testing, and maintains the slogan, “Know Before You Go.”

Right now, the app will only cover trains on the numbered lines, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and the S shuttle train. Currently there are 156 subway stations that can be accessed through the app.

By clicking on a specific station the app brings up a list of arrival times – the same times you’d see if you were down in the station looking at the countdown clock.

Joseph Lhota said, “The days of rushing to a subway station only to find yourself waiting motionless in a state of uncertainty are coming to an end. The ability to get subway arrival time at street level is here. We are doing something that rarely happens in New York. We’re reducing anxiety.”

The app is meant to handle up to 5,000 incoming requests per second, and the information comes from the same arrival times shown on the station countdown clock and on the MTA’s website.

It is possible to use the app for the numbered lines and shuttle train because of a $228-million upgrade to the signal system. Unfortunately the lettered lines still need to be upgraded, as they’re still running on an outdated system.

Riders on those lines will not be able to use the app anytime soon.

Testers say there were a few times when the screen displayed, “No train arrival information available, please try again later.” There is still some fine-tuning needed to get the app to be more accurate.

The MTA already has an existing app that will tell you bus arrival times and one that gives you the drive time on its bridges and tunnels. This will be the first time that an app was developed for the MTA’s subway service.

An attorney for the Straphangers Campaign, Gene Russianoff, said, “I think it’s fantastic, exactly the kind of information riders want, and it will get them to use subways more often.”

Now you don’t have to run down the stairs and wait on the platform for the train. You can now finish that cigarette while checking this new program before rushing down the stairs.

Edited by Braden Becker

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